The first thing people notice about each other is usually their face and their smile. If you want to give a good first impression, you need to take care of your teeth. Without the proper oral care, you put yourself at risk for gingivitis and other oral infections.

Gingivitis is a type of gum disease, which causes inflammation via bacterial infection. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of more serious gum disease. If you leave the disease untreated, it could progress into periodontitis. Both of these infections have the potential to cause significant tooth loss, which puts a strain on your finances and your health. However, if you know what symptoms to look out for, and how to spot and treat gingivitis, you are one step closer to optimum oral health.

Causes

The first step towards maintaining good oral health is preventing the bacterial infection. Whenever you eat or drink anything, food can get caught between your teeth and gums. If the food remains stuck there, bacteria begins to form, causing a gum infection, which can lead to gingivitis and other diseases.

Plaque is another way you can succumb to gum infection. Plaque builds up on the teeth as you eat and drink. Without attention, the plaque slowly builds up and causes tarter. This transition is easily fixed with regular brushing and flossing, which is a habit that many individuals forgo. However, if the plaque and tarter begins to extend below the gum line, you are at risk for bacterial infection.

In addition to prevention, there are a number of other actions that put you at risk for gingivitis. Some potential causes of gingivitis include smoking or chewing tobacco, diabetes, some medications, crooked teeth, poorly-fitting braces or other dental devices, broken fillings, pregnancy, family history, and weakened immunity, like in HIV/AIDS patients. Whether you have experienced any of these potential causes or not, you should maintain the proper schedule for dentist visits to maintain your oral health.

Signs and Symptoms

One of the biggest issues that patients with gingivitis face is that they lack any noticeable symptoms. Some people may have gum diseases without any kind of symptoms to indicate it. The presence of gingivitis without symptoms is difficult to diagnose, which is another reason you should keep up with your routine check-ups with your dentist.

When you are trying to determine if your symptoms have to do with gingivitis, the first aspect you should take into consideration is your gums. Red and tender gums are usually a sign of infection, especially if they begin to bleed when you try to brush your teeth. If you are looking at appearance alone, the gums may have already begun to pull away from the teeth. Pus between the teeth and gums is also a good indication that something more is wrong.

You should also pay attention to your teeth, as you try to determine if you are at-risk for gum disease. Gingivitis makes teeth loose, which can cause pain as you try to chew. As your teeth loosen, they begin to fit together differently, which is also referred to as malocclusion, making it difficult to speak and eat properly. Your teeth slowly become more and more sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature, regardless if you’re eating or not.

One of the main telltale signs of gingivitis is your breath. Since gingivitis is a bacterial infection, it can settle on your gums, tongue, and even the roof of your mouth. If you experience bad breath, in spite of regularly brushing your teeth, you are probably at risk for gingivitis.

When Gingivitis is Left Untreated

When you leave this bacterial infection to its own devices, gingivitis can have damaging effects on the entire mouth. Though your gums are directly attached to the teeth, gingivitis can cause the gums to separate from them, leaving your gum exposed. Without the proper support from the gums, your teeth can loosen, making it difficult to chew and talk. Essentially, the loss of tissue in your mouth may eventually warrant a visit to the dentist, who will potentially have to perform oral surgery.

What Can I Do?

The first step towards treating your gingivitis is diagnosing it. Schedule a visit with your dentist immediately. Detail any symptoms you’ve been having lately to give the dentist an overall look at your situation. As you give the dentist more information, he is more likely to be able to give a well-informed diagnosis. At the office, he may choose to treat plaque and infections with scaling, root planing, or laser tarter removal.

Treating gingivitis at home is fairly easy. You need to make sure you regularly brush your teeth, which helps to break down bacteria that is lingering in your mouth after meals. Antibiotic mouthwash is another way to maintain your oral hygiene. If you presently smoke, try to refrain from smoking, or quit it all together. Individuals who are at-risk for gingivitis from diabetes should monitor their blood sugar and keep the condition under control, in order to prevent and treat existing infections.

If the gingivitis has progressed to a more severe extent, you may receive prescriptions or be scheduled for surgery. Time-release antiseptic chips and antibiotic microspheres are often offered after root planing procedures. Some dentists may prescribe you medication to treat the infection. If surgery is necessary, your dentist may perform flap surgery, which lifts the gums back as plaque is scraped off, or bone and tissue grafts, helping to heal the jaw and teeth when the gingivitis has progressed beyond the abilities of natural healing.

Gingivitis is a highly damaging and highly preventable disease. By brushing your teeth after meals and flossing at least once a day, you greatly reduce your risk of infection and other diseases. Make sure you do a self-examination of your mouth often, allowing you to find the smallest issues in the gums and teeth before they become a bigger problem. Speak with your dentist, if you have concerns for your oral health.