Gingivitis is a buildup of bacteria that, if left untreated, can lead to serious dental health issues such as gum disease and tooth loss.
In the early stage of gingivitis, plaque buildup causes the gums to become inflamed and easily bleed during tooth brushing. Some other common symptoms of gingivitis include red and swollen gums, persistent bad breath and loose teeth.
Eventually, toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque as well as the body’s “good” enzymes start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place, leading to gum disease and tooth loss.
Other factors that contribute to gingivitis include:
- Hormonal changes that make gums more sensitive and gingivitis easier to develop, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause and monthly menstruation.
- Illnesses can affect the condition of your gums. Diabetes, for example, increases glucose levels in saliva and may help bacteria thrive that can lead to gingivitis.
- Poor oral hygiene habits, such as not brushing, not flossing and smoking, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.
Gingivitis can be prevented and treated with proper plaque control. Proper plaque control consists of daily brushing and flossing and professional cleanings at least twice a year.
Brushing removes plaque from the surfaces of the teeth and flossing removes food particles from in between the teeth and under the gum line. And, according to the American Dental Association, antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce the bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.
How do you practice proper plaque control? Share your tips in the comments below.