Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, and according to the American Dental Association (ADA), 50% of adults have gingivitis in at least 6 teeth. The odds are against us, so here are the warning signs of having gingivitis, so we can catch it sooner before it becomes a major issue in our teeth and bodies for the best maximum health.
What causes gingivitis and periodontal disease is plaque left to gather on the teeth and left untreated. The biggest prevention of gingivitis is regular oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly (every 6 months), according to Colgate. Brushing and flossing regularly and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings helps keep plaque at bay and bacteria from invading your mouth.
Bleeding gums are the first and most common signs of having gingivitis. A study in 1999 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that half of adults over 30 experience gum bleeding when they brush their teeth. Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs of periodontal disease and gingivitis, and left untreated can lead to bacterial infection that destroys the structure of your jawbone that keeps your teeth in place, causing tooth loss. So while gum bleeding may seem minor, if it is left untreated, you could end up with major problems.
Smoking and tobacco chewing increases your chances of getting gingivitis. Smokers collect more tarter on their teeth, and the longer and more they smoke, the more resistant their gum disease becomes to treatment. Quitting smoking is not only healthy for your whole body, but your teeth as well. If you do smoke, taking care of your teeth properly is a definite must, as you are more likely to get gingivitis in the first place.
Having crooked or poorly aligned teeth raises risks of gingivitis as well. Crowded teeth are harder to brush in the crevices and get around all the teeth to prevent plaque buildup, so if you have crooked, crowded, or poorly aligned teeth have your dentist show you the best way to brush them for maximum oral health, and if you have braces, take careful measures to brush your teeth thoroughly to avoid plaque and tarter buildup over time.
Medications that you take, like Cyclosporine, NIfedipine, and Phenytoin can inflame your gums as a side effect, making your gums more susceptible to trapping plaque and tarter. Talk to your doctor (and dentist) about any medications that you are taking that may be affecting your gums and your teeth so you can take extra precautions to care for your teeth.
Gum disease may be hereditary. Genes can make you predisposed to gingivitis and periodontal disease, and approximately 30% of people carry a gene predisposing them to poor oral health, according to Colgate. Look at your family- their teeth loss, oral health, etc can be a great indication of how healthy your teeth can be down the road. Naturally, the way you care for your own teeth makes a huge difference so you can’t blame all your oral dilemmas on genetics, but it’s a great indicator on what you need to watch out for and make you extra careful with your own teeth.
Hormones can affect your oral hygiene as well. Menopause, puberty, and other hormonal fluctuations can cause your gums to inflame, making your gums more susceptible to gum disease and plaque and tarter buildup. Taking care of your teeth at all times helps make life factors, like hormones, stress, and teeth grinding, smoking, and poor diet less able to affect your teeth and gums over time.
The best way to care for your teeth is to visit your dentist regularly and make sure to brush and floss regularly. Letting plaque build up on your teeth is a great way to invite gingivitis to your mouth, so keep your teeth clean and healthy and watch for signs, like tarter buildup, bleeding gums, and swelling to keep your teeth as healthy as you can. Visit your dentist for regular oral care and for any questions you have about your dental hygiene.