Healthy gums should be pink and firm to the touch. Gums should sit flush with the teeth, with no flaps, pockets, or places where they appear to be receding from the tooth. Many people don’t realize how important it is to treat the early stages of gingivitis before it gets worse. Swollen, or bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis. For many people with gingivitis, this inflammation is not painful. The following symptoms can indicate gingivitis:

  • Gums that are swollen or puffy
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth (recede)
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing

Risk factors for gingivitis

While gingivitis can develop in anyone, there are some factors that can increase your risk for developing gingivitis. Gingivitis risk factors include:

  • Poor oral health habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Older age
  • Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy or menopause
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Inadequate nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
  • Genetics
  • Certain medications that cause dry mouth or gum changes
  • Conditions that cause decreased immunity, such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease

Treatment for gingivitis

The earlier you catch gingivitis the easier it is to treat. The goal of gingivitis treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets around teeth and prevent damage to surrounding bone. Untreated gingivitis can progress to gum disease that spreads to underlying tissue and bone (periodontitis), a much more serious condition that can lead to tooth loss. If gingivitis isn’t advanced, treatment may involve less invasive procedures, including:

  • Scaling. This procedure removes the plaque, tartar and bacterial products from your tooth surfaces and beneath your gums. It may be performed using instruments, a laser or an ultrasonic device. Once the tartar and bacteria are removed you should see the return of pink, healthy gum tissue within days or weeks.
  • Dental restoration, if needed.Misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, bridges or other dental restorations may irritate your gums and make it harder to remove plaque during daily oral care. If problems with your teeth or dental restorations contribute to your gingivitis, your dentist may recommend fixing these problems.
  • Antibiotics. Topical or oral antibiotics can help control bacterial infection. Topical antibiotics can include antibiotic mouth rinses or insertion of gels containing antibiotics in the space between your teeth and gums or into pockets after deep cleaning.

Tips to reduce or prevent gingivitis at home

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and replace it at least every three to four months.
  • Use an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective at removing plaque and tartar.
  • Floss daily.
  • Get regular professional dental cleanings, on a schedule as recommended by your dentist.

Gingivitis usually clears up after a thorough professional cleaning — as long as you continue good oral hygiene at home. Dr. Kulangara at Advanced Dental Arts in Wesley Chapel will use her experience and expertise help restore your gums and teeth. Schedule an exam today. Call 813-701-5074 today to learn more and schedule your first appointment.