Gum disease begins with gingivitis. If this condition is not addressed in a timely manner, it can progress and damage your oral health, leading to infection, mobility, and even tooth loss.
At our Corpus Christi, TX practice, Drs. Robertson and Orchard offer periodontal treatment to reduce infection and prevent complications. Here, we discuss the first stage of gum disease and explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gingivitis.
Why Does Gingivitis Occur?
Red, swollen, and tender gums are indicative of gingivitis. This condition may be acute or chronic, mild or severe. In most cases, gingivitis is simply an inflammatory response to irritants along the gum line.
When plaque accumulates on the teeth, it harbors bacteria. These bacteria continue to breed until the plaque deposits are removed.
In some instances, gingivitis occurs as a result of hormone fluctuations. That is why adolescents often experience red, tender gums during puberty. Women who are going through menses, pregnancy, or menopause may also have gingivitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?
As aforementioned, red, swollen, and tender gums denote the presence of gingivitis. In addition, the gum tissue may bleed during brushing or flossing. This condition may also be accompanied by bad breath or a bad taste.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to see a dentist right away. Untreated gingivitis can worsen, leading to much more serious problems.
Treatment for Gingivitis
Fortunately, gingivitis can be treated with a routine dental cleaning and improved home care. In fact, because zero bone loss has occurred at this point, the condition can be completely reversed. (This is not the case with more advanced periodontal disease.)
During an appointment with your hygienist, he or she will gently remove plaque, tartar, food particles, and other debris from the surfaces of the teeth. This will be accomplished with hand scalers and ultrasonic instruments.
Next, the teeth will be polished with a gritty toothpaste and a rubber cup. This removes biofilm and surface stains. Finally, your hygienist will floss between the teeth to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Our team can also demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques, which can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy between visits.
While most patients benefit from biannual cleanings, those who are predisposed to gum disease may require more frequent visits. We can talk with you about an appropriate cleaning schedule during a consultation at our office.
What Happens if Gingivitis Is Left Untreated?
It is extremely important to address gingivitis early on. If it progresses into periodontal disease, the infection will move below the gums and erode the jawbone. As a result, deep pockets will form around the tooth roots, where more bacteria and plaque can become trapped.
If this occurs, more invasive treatments will be necessary. While mild periodontal disease can be treated with scaling and root planing, or a deep dental cleaning, advanced periodontal disease will require surgical intervention.
Untreated gum disease will not only compromise your dental health, it will lead to more expensive and invasive procedures later on.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Do you have tender, swollen gums? Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? Gingivitis could be to blame. To schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us online or call us at (361) 992-3011.