a girl is brushing her teeth

Pink In The Sink: What Causes Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an oral health disease that most often results from poor oral home care. Many individuals who suffer from this condition are unaware of it, as this gum problem is seldom painful. Some of the symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing (noticeably pink saliva).
  • Puffy or swollen red gums.
  • Bad breath.

The best method to stop the cause of gingivitis is to increase the amount of time spent brushing and flossing. These methods have been shown to be effective in removing plaque from the mouth, especially in areas along the gumline. Plaque (also called biofilm) is a sticky, often invisible film found on the surface of the teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums. Plaque is made up of germs, their food, and the waste they produce. When left stuck on teeth and/or along the gumline, this combination can irritate the tissue and cause an inflammation reaction to occur within the body's immune system. The longer an individual waits to remove this sticky mass, the more time it has to damage the teeth and surrounding gum tissue. This series of events is what causes gingivitis.

Plaque and Tartar

If plaque is left inside the mouth and not removed, it can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. Minerals from saliva, foods and drinks become embedded in the sticky mass of plaque and form tiny hard deposits on the teeth above and below the gumline. These deposits must be removed by a dental professional and provide a greater surface area upon which more plaque may build up. This results in the progression and worsening of gingivitis, leading to greater inflammation and subsequent bleeding.

Treating Gingivitis

When you notice gingivitis, it is best to contact a dental professional, who can help reverse the effects of gingivitis and return the gums to the firm, pink state that indicates healthy oral tissue. Regular visits to a dental professional to assess the condition of gum tissue will also decrease the progression of gingivitis to a more serious gum disease called periodontitis. The sooner one cares for their gums affected by gingivitis, the better the outcome. Whereas gum disease is a reversible condition, periodontal disease is not as easily treated and can lead to tooth loss resulting from damage to gums, bone and other tissues that surround the teeth.

The mechanical action of brushing and flossing plaque from the mouth, especially in areas along the gumline, lessens the chance of gingivitis developing. Also, effective over-the-counter dental products such as toothpastes will not only remove the germs, but also help inhibit the growth of new germs. Decreasing the amount of plaque present in the mouth is the best defence in preventing what causes gingivitis; choose toothpaste with antibacterial ingredients that will help fight plaque germs.

Since plaque is often invisible to the eye, using a toothpaste with an added germ prevention ingredient increases the effectiveness of brushing twice daily. Developing a daily routine to reduce germs in the mouth will reduce gum problems and increase both oral health and overall wellness.