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Posted on: July 22, 2020
Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Middletown, NY
Do your gums look red or do they bleed easily? These are common signs of gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is more common than many people realize since it affects people to varying degrees. In fact, according to the CDC, nearly 48 percent of Americans have some form of gum disease. Men and adults over the age of 65 have the highest rates of gum disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), half of the adults in America have gums that bleed easily. There is usually no pain and the symptoms are subtle, so some people are unaware that they have gingivitis. We often don’t give our gums the same scrutiny we give to our teeth, but gum health is just as important.
What Are the Typical Indications of Gingivitis?
People with gingivitis may have:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Red gums
- Gums that look shiny
- Gums that bleed when flossing and brushing
- A foul taste in your mouth
If your gingivitis progresses and turns into periodontal disease, you may notice:
- Gums that pull away from your teeth
- Receding gums, which make your teeth look longer
- Unexplained bad breath
- A change in the way your dentures fit
- A change in your bite
- New gaps between your teeth
Why Does Gingivitis Occur?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It occurs when you don’t remove plaque from your teeth every day, allowing it to build up. The plaque will harden into a yellowish substance called tartar. You can remove plaque by brushing and flossing, but only a dental professional can scrape tartar off your teeth. Plaque will irritate your gum tissue and cause inflammation, causing gingivitis.
If you don’t get treatment for gingivitis, it could turn into periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a gum infection. Plaque, which is full of bacteria, will get under your gums and damage the tissue, ligaments and tooth socket. If periodontal disease progresses, your teeth will loosen. Adults lose more teeth to periodontal disease than any other oral health problem.
Some people are more prone to gum disease than others. Factors include:
- Smoking (the biggest risk factor)
- Poor oral hygiene that fails to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar
- A diet high in sugar that leads to more plaque on your teeth
- Certain illnesses
- About three out of 10 people are genetically susceptible to gum disease
- Hormonal changes from pregnancy and menopause
- Cancer treatments that lower your immune response
- Chronic dry mouth where you don’t have enough saliva to wash away plaque
How Does Gum Disease Impact the Body?
If you have gingivitis and don’t get treatment, it could advance to periodontal disease, which can increase your risk of developing serious health conditions, including:
- Reduced Respiratory Function: Research published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found a clear association between periodontitis and reduced respiratory function. The theory is that bacteria in the mouth is breathed into the lungs, triggering an infection that can cause inflammation and lower respiratory function.
- Diabetes: Severe gum disease increases a diabetic’s chance of developing kidney and heart complications. People who have diabetes are also more likely to develop gum disease.
- Stroke: A person’s chance of having a stroke caused by a blockage of an artery that delivers oxygen to the brain increases with severe periodontal disease, according to the American Heart Association.
- Cognitive Function: A study published by PubMed linked a decline in older men’s cognitive abilities to periodontal disease.
- Heart Health: The bacteria from gum disease can travel through the body’s blood vessels and cause small blood clots and inflammation. This may cause coronary heart disease.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Researchers found that people who had both rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease had less pain from their severe RA when they received periodontal disease treatment.
- Lupus: Lupus can be worse in patients with periodontal disease compared with patients with good gum health, according to The Lupus Foundation of America.
Not taking care of your gums can introduce infection and inflammation into your body. While research hasn’t yet uncovered a definite cause-and-effect link between gum disease and many conditions, there are more than 120 diseases researchers are studying to find the relationship between the medical conditions and gum disease.
Is Gingivitis Treatment Painful?
Gingivitis treatment isn’t painful, so never hesitate to get professional help if you have early gum disease symptoms. Once our dentist diagnoses gingivitis, he or she will recommend a dental teeth cleaning and explain where your at-home dental hygiene is lacking. Coming in every six months for an exam and cleaning should keep gingivitis from returning. If you have multiple risk factors for developing gum disease, you may need more frequent exams.
If gingivitis advances to periodontal disease, there will be pockets of plaque under the gums. You may need a scaling and root planing procedure, also called a deep cleaning, to clean under the gums. The procedure will also make your roots smooth, preventing gingivitis from sticking to them easily. Besides this non-surgical procedure, there are surgeries to treat severe periodontal disease.
Contact us today, either by phone or online, if you suspect you have gingivitis. Our dentist will find a treatment to get your gums in the pink again.