In your day-to-day activities, you rely on a healthy mouth. From chewing your dinner to smiling for the camera, your teeth help you to function at a comfortable level. And a clean tongue contributes to fresher breath. But what about your gums?

On your constant quest to achieve bright, white teeth, you may overlook the importance of caring for your gums. If you leave your gums (or teeth) unbrushed and your floss untouched, you risk getting gingivitis.

In this blog, we discuss everything you need to know about this gum condition-what it is, what causes it, how to recognize it, and how to treat or prevent it. You’ll also learn how crucial it is to connect with a knowledgeable dentist in order to combat gingivitis.

Gingivitis: What Is It?

You’re probably well acquainted with conditions like cavities and toothaches. But the term “gingivitis” could give you pause. Gingivitis simply means inflammation or irritation of gum tissue. It is also known as gum disease. In most cases, gingivitis is a non-serious oral condition caused by plaque buildup around the areas where teeth meet gums.

This excess plaque gathers around gum lining, and in response, the sensitive pink tissue grows swollen, becomes bloody, or in some cases, even recedes from the adjoining tooth. Gingivitis affects the health of teeth just as much as it affects the appearance of the gums.

What Causes Gingivitis?

As stated above, most cases of gingivitis result from the growth and spreading of plaque. Your gums can also experience damage when small pieces of food become lodged in between teeth or beneath the gums. In either scenario, bacteria’s presence leads to an infection at the gum line.

Less serious bouts of gingivitis merely lead to irritated, reddened gums. But sometimes, the infection can continue to spread, causing gum tissue to remove itself from the enamel of your teeth. In general, a lack of proper oral care on a consistent basis sets the stage for gingivitis and its accompanying effects on your mouth.

What Should You Look For?

Fortunately, gum disease is relatively simple to identify and to diagnose. If you suspect you may have gingivitis or if you need to know what to look for, watch out for the following symptoms:

Swollen gums

Bleeding gums

Loose gums

Pain when flossing or brushing

Pus in gums Bad breath

While these symptoms aren’t necessarily serious, they do cause irritating pain at their worst and inconvenient oral sensations at their best.

If you experience most or all of these symptoms and if your gums persist in causing pain or soreness, visit your dentist for professional advice or treatment.

Can Gingivitis Be Dangerous?

Usually, gingivitis begins and ends with problems in the gums. But sometimes, it can progress to a more serious periodontal disease-periodontitis. Periodontitis affects the bony structure underneath gums that supports and holds teeth in place. Essentially, periodontal disease damages the structural integrity of this area, leading to loose teeth-and in some cases-complete tooth loss.

Other complications might include ulcer formation on the gums (known as trench mouth) or abscess of the gums or jawbone. However, these conditions are rare, and they only become a possibility if no action is taken to reduce the effects of gingivitis in the first place.

How Can You Treat or Prevent Gingivitis?

Optimally, consistent and meaningful oral care can keep gingivitis at bay. This oral care includes brushing and flossing teeth at least twice a day. Additionally, mouthwashes with antiseptic ingredients or essential oils can fight plaque buildup.

When you make semiannual dental cleaning visits, a dentist can clean and scrape away hard-to-reach plaque and tartar buildup. Dental offices are invaluable resources since they can provide professional solutions for gingivitis and its symptoms, such as cleaning teeth with fluoride or applying topical pain relievers to your gums.

Other ways to treat gingivitis include laser tartar removal, antibiotic drugs, and gum flap surgery.

Any Last Tips for Oral Care?

If you find yourself experiencing a case of gingivitis, know that you can take control of your dental habits. Follow the tips above to manage your gingivitis. And to prevent this gum condition from happening in the first place, ensure that you brush, floss, and periodically visit your dentist.

You can also establish a balanced diet and avoid excessive smoking or tobacco use. The more you do to protect your teeth and gums, the higher your chances are for enjoying a gingivitis-free life.

But perhaps the most important way of treating gingivitis is to create a healthy relationship with your dentist. At All About Smiles, we can provide a professional diagnosis and then offer a thorough deep-cleaning to stop the effects of gingivitis and improve the health of your smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and benefit from good oral care.

And to keep up on other important dental topics, read our other blog posts.