Gingivitis is a common and mild form of periodontal disease (gum disease) that causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. When left untreated, gingivitis can lead to swollen, puffy, receding gums, tooth decay, and bone loss. It can also lead to a more severe gum disease called periodontitis.
Preventative care, such as brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups, will help you and your loved ones avoid many common dental ailments, including gingivitis. However, like with all other healthcare concerns, knowledge is power.
Prevention of gingivitis starts with fighting the plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth you can feel as a rough surface with your tongue. The side products of bacteria are acids that destroy the enamel and the gums causing cavities and gingivitis respectively. Today we will look at the most common risk factors for gingivitis.
Common Risk Factors for Gingivitis
Poor Dental Hygiene and Habits
Maintaining good dental hygiene is one of the most critical and easiest ways to keep your teeth pearly white and your gums healthy. Proper dental hygiene includes:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice per day
- Flossing daily
- Visiting your dentist every six months for regular checkups with x-rays and preventative cleaning
- Visiting your dentist when you experience swelling or bleeding on your gums
- Bringing your children to the dentist for regular checkups every six months once their teeth start to grow
By maintaining proper dental hygiene (ie brushing and flossing), it is less likely for plaque build-up to occur. In case dental hygiene is not well maintained plaque hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar may be on the tooth surface or under the gum irritating the soft tissue and causing gum inflammation. Furthermore, when your dentist removes plaque during routine visits, tartar is less likely to occur, which reduces the likelihood of bacteria build-up and gum inflammation.
Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco can increase the risk of patients developing gingivitis. Not only is tobacco addictive, but it can create more periodontal pockets that can trap unwanted bacteria in your gum line. Additionally, tobacco lessens the blood supply to the gums, which is necessary for proper gum health.
Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins in a patient’s diet can increase the risk of developing unwanted gingivitis. Specifically, vitamin C fights off scurvy, a mouth condition that causes bleeding of the gums and is most notably related to the pirates of the old days! Increasing your intake of foods like broccoli, kale, guava, and other delicious fruits and vegetables can help prevent gingivitis.
There are a variety of medical conditions that can increase a patient’s chances of developing gingivitis. For example, individuals with diagnoses such as leukemia, HIV, or cancer undergo treatments that weaken their immune system. When the immune system is low, it is harder for the body to fight off unwanted bacteria that may get trapped beneath the gum line, increasing the risk of periodontal diseases. Other medical conditions such as pregnancy (or other hormone changes), high blood pressure, or seizure disorders can also increase a patient’s risk. Please consult with your dentist if you are taking medications for any of these or other chronic medical conditions.
Other Risk Factors to Consider
There are a few other risk factors for a heightened risk of developing gingivitis, but they are often out of the patient’s control. Those risk factors include but are not limited to:
- Old age
- Dry mouth
- Improperly placed dental restorations
- Viral and fungal infections
Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic
At Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic, our main priority is a great dental experience for you and your children, which includes preventing gingivitis! Whether you seek routine dental care, need orthodontic treatments, or have a dental concern, we can help! Leveraging years of experience with the latest innovative dental technologies and solutions, we take great pride in providing our patients with the highest caliber of dental care.
Contact our clinic by phone or visit our website to schedule your dental appointment today.