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Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, often involving bleeding gums, inflammation, and bad breath. It can be easily reversed with timely attention from a dentist.

Primary Symptoms of Gingivitis

  • Inflammation—when infected, gums may appear red or puffy. This occurs because the accumulation of plaque and tartar begins to irritate the gum tissue.
  • Bleeding—once the gums become inflamed, they are more prone to bleeding when brushing or flossing.
  • Bad Breath—medically referred to as halitosis, bad breath is a common side effect of gingivitis.
Tooth diagram

Am I at Risk of Gingivitis?

Some people are more likely to develop gingivitis than others. While gingivitis is common, there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to develop the condition, such as:

  • Smoking or using tobacco products
  • Genetics
  • Poor-fitting restorations
  • Teeth grinding
  • Certain medications
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Compromised immune system

Additionally, pregnant women often experience gum inflammation and irritation due to hormonal changes.

Untreated Plaque and Tartar can Lead to Gingivitis

  • What is Plaque? Plaque is a clear, sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth when bacteria accumulate.
  • What Is Tartar? When plaque remains on the teeth, it eventually hardens, becoming tartar. Tartar spurs gum disease by helping bacteria prosper and multiply.
  • Why Should I Do Something about It? Without professional attention, gingivitis can escalate to periodontitis, resulting in gum recession and eventual tooth loss.
John F. Rink DDS, AAACD

Is Gingivitis Really that Common?

Nearly half of American adults suffer from gum disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.2 % of adults over 30 years of age suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

How can I Prevent Gingivitis?

Three easy ways to reduce your risk of gum disease:

Avoiding harmful habits

Starchy or sugary foods can increase plaque buildup. Additionally, smoking affects your immune system, making your gums more susceptible to infection and less able to overcome it. Quit smoking and maintain a well-balanced diet to reduce your risk.

Attending bi-annual cleaning and exams

During your bi-annual checkup, your teeth will be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and tartar. Your doctor will also perform a comprehensive exam to look for any signs of gingivitis.

Maintaining good oral hygeine

You should brush your teeth twice and floss at least once every day. A well-maintained oral hygiene routine can prevent plaque from accumulating.

Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

American Academy of Periodontology

John F. Rink DDS, AAACD

Reversing Gum Disease

When it is detected early, a professional cleaning and improved at-home care can reverse gum disease. In some cases, a deep cleaning may be necessary to reduce the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gum tissue. During a deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing, the doctor will remove bacteria and tartar along the tooth surfaces and below the gum line. He or she will then smooth the root surfaces to prevent bacterial accumulation in the future and help the gums reattach.

How to Address Gingivitis

See A Dentist

Although simple measures can reverse gingivitis, a dentist's assessment and guidance are essential.

At-Home Remedies

Good oral hygiene, quitting smoking, and controlling other risk factors can reverse gingivitis.

Antibiotic Treatments

Used alone or in combination with other treatments, antibiotics can destroy the bacteria affecting the gums.

If you notice that your gums bleed when you brush or floss, or if you have persistent bad breath, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. He or she can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to protect your oral health.

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