What’s the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the perfect smile? Usually, it’s brilliantly white teeth. However, your gums deserve as much attention as your teeth to make up that healthy smile.
Unfortunately, gums don’t come into focus unless there’s ‘something wrong’. And usually, that ‘something wrong’ is gingivitis.
Gingivitis is an infection that results in inflammation and bleeding gums. If you think you have gingivitis, don’t worry. We’ll tell you all you need to know about the signs, symptoms and ways to control it. If you don’t have gingivitis, we’ll let you know about prevention measures you can undertake to avoid it for healthy teeth and gums and that perfect smile.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease. It is caused by bacteria that builds up around the gumline and turns into plaque – a soft, sticky and colourless layer. This may result in inflamed, bleeding, tender and swollen gums.
Gingivitis is more common than you think. According to the National Oral Health Survey, close to 90% Indians have some form of gum disease. For those with gingivitis, the number stood at 46.6%.
If ignored, it can result in a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. This can cause your teeth to loosen or even fall out. But, there’s no reason to panic as gum disease can be controlled before it gets out of hand. Yes, even periodontitis too (with extreme deep cleaning, care and in rare instances, surgery).
How to Know if You Have Gingivitis?
The easiest way to find out is through regular dental check-ups. Your dentist will be able to spot issues and help you take preventive measures before the symptoms start having any perceptible effects. Some common symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Swollen gums
- Soft puffy gums
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
- Gums that bleed when brushing
- A change in gum colour from pink to reds
- Persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
If you notice multiple such symptoms or any other irregularity in your teeth or gums, do not hesitate to get in touch with your dentist.
Causes and Risk Factors of Gingivitis
The most common cause of gingivitis and other periodontal diseases is poor oral health. Taking care of your oral health is the best way to reduce the chances of gingivitis. However, there are a few more causes of gum disease. One of them is smoking. Other lifestyle factors that increase the risk of gingivitis include an unhealthy diet, obesity and stress.
Some medications can have adverse effects on your oral health. People who take blood-thinning medication are at a higher risk of bleeding gums, a common symptom of gingivitis. Diseases like Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular disease and pregnancy complications also contribute to this. At present, research is being conducted to understand the relationship between illnesses like pancreatic cancer, pulmonary disease, & rheumatoid arthritis with gum diseases.
How to Prevent Gingivitis?
As mentioned previously, maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gingivitis. Some practices you can adopt to ensure this include:
- Brushing at least twice a day (Including your tongue)
- Using an ayurvedic-based, specialized toothpaste for gums
- Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse
- Scheduling regular dental appointments
Maintaining great oral health will not only reduce the chances of gum disease, but it’ll also make you feel great! So, along with your pearly whites, ensure that you focus on your gum health for a perfectly healthy smile.