Recent studies have shown that over 42% of US adults currently have some form of gum disease in their mouths. This has left many wondering about their own oral hygiene. If you have felt that your gums have recently swollen, you may be contributing to the 42%.

The most common form of gum disease, gingivitis, is the first thing you should check for. 

In this article, we will go over everything there is to know about gingivitis, and how you can diagnose and treat it.

What Is Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease and is caused by poor dental hygiene. It is the inflammation of the gums, resulting in discolored gums and gaps between the gums and teem.

The plaque that forms on your teeth after eating can build up and harden into tartar. When it hardens it can find its way under your gum line, causing gingivitis. Plaque forms very quickly, after every meal, and doesn’t take long to harden. This is why dentists recommend brushing within an hour after every meal.

Hardened plaque, tartar, is a home for bacteria and makes future plaque removal more difficult. Because tartar is so hard, it acts as a protective barrier for bacteria and plaque buildup. To remove tartar, you will have to visit your dentist. The longer you leave tartar untreated, the more plaque will harden and cause inflammation on your gums.

As your gums swell and become more sensitive, bleeding may occur from eating, brushing, or gentle stimulants. Gum disease can also lead to tooth decay and tooth loss if left untreated.

What You Should Avoid

Gingivitis is a very common disease and can affect anyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Despite how common the disease is, there are a large number of factors that increase your chances of developing gingivitis. To name a few:

  • Dehydration
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Poor oral health habits
  • Drug use
  • High blood pressure
  • Major hormonal changes
  • Viral and fungal infections in the mouth

Symptoms of Gingivitis

If you have been maintaining good oral hygiene your gums should be a soft yet firm, pink color and fit snugly around each of your teeth. If you have noticed that you have any of the following symptoms of gingivitis then you should schedule an immediate appointment with your dentist. The more time you wait, the more damaging gingivitis will be on your gums and teeth.

Receding Gum Line

Your teeth may appear longer and your gum line may be moving back into your mouth. Gingivitis can cause your gum line to recede making your teeth appear longer.

Swollen Gums

You might have noticed your gums have turned a bright red, are swollen, or much more sensitive. As bacteria grows inside your gums they release toxins that irritate your gums. Bacteria build up along the gum line is the number 1 cause of gingivitis. Swollen gums may make everyday tasks like eating, brushing your teeth, or talking painful.

Bleeding Gums

After brushing your teeth or flossing do your gums bleed? If they do, this is a sign that you have agitated the bacteria along your gums.

Bad Breath

Prolonged bad breath is a very clear sign of gingivitis, even after brushing your teeth, and using mouthwash you might still have bad breath. This is usually accompanied by a gross, vomit-inducing taste in your mouth.

Gaps Between Your Teeth and Gums

As gingivitis grows, food and bacteria can find a home inside the spaces between your teeth and gums. Gingivitis can increase the size of the gap and can lead to further infections.

Pus Along Your Gum Line

If the gap between your teeth and gums becomes infected, pus can develop. This is 1 of the worst forms of gum disease and can result in gum abscess and periodontal abscess.

How To Treat Gingivitis

Once you notice that you have symptoms of gingivitis you should make an appointment with your dentist. Until your dentist can professionally treat you, here are a few ways you can treat and prevent gingivitis.

Change Your Brushing Technique

Brushing your teeth with too much force can cause damage to your teeth and the surrounding tissue and gums. Brushing too hard can cause inflammation, which is why we recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Floss Regularly

Flossing allows you to clean areas of your mouth that a toothbrush can’t reach. It allows you to remove leftover food and plaque from the gaps between your teeth, preventing plaque buildup. If you already have inflamed gums, be careful flossing as you may irritate your gums more.

Use Mouthwash

Regularly rinsing your mouth with mouthwash can help you remove plaque and small food particles from your mouth. Specialized mouthwash to numb your gums and kill bacteria. Next time you go to the supermarket, look for mouthwash specifically made to treat gingivitis.

Try Gingivitis Fighting Toothpaste

You can opt for specially formulated toothpaste that is meant to prevent and treat gingivitis. This particular type of toothpaste focuses on the plaque around the gum line and quickly softens and removes it.

Improve Your Diet

A healthy diet consisting of vitamin C, D, iron, and calcium can greatly improve your oral health. These vitamins strengthen your teeth and give your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself from any damage.

You should also avoid acidic and high sugar foods.

Avoid Stress and Exercise

Stress can negatively impact your hormones and increase the levels of cortisol your body creates. Cortisol leads to inflammation and is linked to swollen gums.

Regularly exercising can also help keep your gums healthy. A dental study in 2018 found that those that regularly exercise had better gum health. 

Take Good Care Of Your Mouth

Be sure that you are being gentle on your teeth and gums and take good care of them. If you have any of the symptoms of gingivitis we outlined in this article, make sure to visit your dentist to get the treatment you need.

Feel free to look around our website to learn more about how you can maintain good oral hygiene. Schedule an appointment with our North York Family dentists if you have any more concerns about your oral health.