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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest
4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Alexandria, VA

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Gingivitis?

If you’ve noticed minor bleeding after you floss or if you have perpetual halitosis lately, then you may be developing gingivitis. Read further to determine if you may have gingivitis, what you can do to treat it, and how to avoid a recurrence.

Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?

Periodontal disease is very common. The CDC reports that almost half of adults who are 30 years and older are in one of the stages of periodontal disease. Left untreated, this disease can become chronic and eventually cause you to lose your teeth, as well as the bone and tissue that supports them. It can also adversely affect your overall physical health, so it’s not a disease that you should ignore.

Periodontal disease is more common in men and the risk increases with age. Almost three-quarters of those 65 and older have periodontal disease. However, gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and has the best prognosis when treated promptly. Since it’s usually asymptomatic, you may not realize you have it, so it’s important to have regular dental checkups so you can catch periodontal disease in its very early stage.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Gingivitis?

If you know how to recognize the symptoms of gingivitis, then it’s easier to treat it early. Normally, your gums are firm and pink and fit tightly around your teeth. If you notice any of the following, then you may be developing gingivitis:

  • Swollen, sensitive gums
  • Discoloration, such as red or purple gums
  • Bleeding when you floss or brush
  • Loosened teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Increased gaps between your teeth
  • Perpetual bad breath

If you notice any of these, then make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you address gingivitis, the better the likelihood of a complete cure.

What’s the Cause of Gingivitis?

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gingivitis. When you eat, a sticky substance called plaque begins to form on your teeth. It’s invisible, so you won’t see it, but you may notice that your mouth doesn’t feel fresh, and it’s worse when eating foods that have a high sugar and carbohydrate content because they encourage the growth of plaque-laden bacteria.

When not removed through brushing and flossing, plaque can cause inflammation and infection of the gum tissue, which is called the gingiva. If left on the teeth and not removed daily, then the plaque becomes a very hard substance called tartar, which can only be removed by a professional. When tartar forms, it creates a barrier that allows bacteria to increase and cause more tartar. When it remains on your teeth for an extended period, it leads to inflammation, bleeding, and swelling, and can encourage the formation of tooth decay. This can become chronic and could eventually cause you to lose all of your teeth.

What Are the Risk Factors for Getting Periodontal Disease?

Poor oral hygiene habits are the most common risk factor, but there are other habits and genetic predispositions that can exacerbate the issue, such as:

  • Tobacco use, both chewing and smoking
  • Family history of gingival disease
  • Diabetes
  • Suppressed immune system from disease or medical treatments
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medications
  • Inadequate nutrition, especially a deficiency of vitamin C
  • Dental appliances that fit poorly or are defective

Does Periodontal Disease Adversely Affect Your Health?

Your mouth is basically a gateway to the rest of your body because anything that goes into your mouth can be carried to the rest of your body through the blood vessels. Oral tissues and membranes are very thin, so they readily absorb substances in your mouth, whether they’re harmful or beneficial. When you have an infection in your gums, it can travel throughout your body and adversely affect your other organs. It can also cause illness and disease. For instance, research has indicated that there’s a correlation between gingival disease and the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory disease
  • Cancer of the blood, kidneys, and pancreas, particularly among men
  • Diabetes and its many complications such as renal disease, nerve damage, and vision loss

What’s the Best Method for Preventing Gum Disease?

One of the best methods for preventing periodontal disease is to practice a regimen of good oral hygiene that includes daily flossing, brushing after meals, and regular dental checkups. It’s also important to pay attention to the early signs, such as pain or discomfort, minor bleeding, swelling, or discoloration of your gums. Since there usually isn’t significant pain associated with gingival disease, particularly in its early stages, you may not notice that you have it. For this reason, you should have regular dental checkups at least annually, preferably more often. If you have risk factors such as those listed above, then more frequent dental visits can save your teeth and your health.

When periodontal disease is treated in its early stage, the prognosis is very good. In the earliest stage, gingivitis can be treated by frequent and regular flossing and brushing and a dental cleaning. If the inflammation has progressed, you may need root planing and scaling. This is a deep cleaning that goes below the gumline and removes the tartar and plaque that may have accumulated. If you have chronic periodontal disease, your dentist will probably recommend this type of cleaning since your gum disease has progressed to a more severe condition.

As a reminder, you can have gum disease and be completely unaware of it, so it’s important to have regular dental checkups and maintain a regimen of good oral hygiene.

If you need to schedule an appointment for a checkup or for cleaning or getting tips on preventing gingivitis, please call our office today. You can also book your appointment online at your convenience. We look forward to helping you regain your good oral health.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest

4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

(703) 940-1886