Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, known more commonly as simply “gum disease.”
Caused by a buildup of bacteria-filled plaque on the teeth and gums, gingivitis is also the easiest type of periodontal disease to treat, but it is important to identify the signs and symptoms to help maintain optimal oral health and healthy gums.
When plaque is not eliminated from the mouth by daily flossing and brushing, it creates toxins that cause gingivitis and irritate the gum tissue.
Luckily, the damage can be reversed during this early stage of periodontal disease. If, however, gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, a disease that may permanently damage your jaw and teeth.
What are the signs and symptoms of gingivitis?
Classic signs of gingivitis include swollen, tender, red gums that may bleed while you brush your teeth. Another common sign of gingivitis is gums that pull away, or recede, from your teeth. This makes your teeth appear elongated.
Some people also experience chronic bad breath due to gingivitis because the disease causes pockets to develop between the gums and teeth. Food debris and plaque collect in the pockets, leading to bad breath.
How can I prevent gum disease?
The key to preventing gingivitis and other forms of gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice each day, and floss between the teeth at least once a day to remove plaque, food debris and bacteria.
Schedule professional cleanings twice a year to remove plaque. This is especially important because once plaque builds up and hardens, it becomes tartar and can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist.