Just one of the many benefits you receive from regular visits to your Asheville dentist is that we always check for signs of gingivitis. A common periodontal disease, gingivitis is not that serious if it’s caught early enough. But left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. And periodontitis is a serious gum disease that weakens your gums to the point that your teeth can fall out. It has been known to cause stroke, heart attack and even lung disease.
The best way to prevent gingivitis is through regular brushing and flossing, as well as twice-a-year dental cleanings. Dental cleanings in particular help prevent gingivitis from forming because the dental hygienist who cleans your teeth is trained to see the signs of the disease.
Gingivitis Is Tough to Spot
Because gingivitis is a rather mild disease, it can creep up on you. Your gums don’t bleed. Your teeth don’t fall out. You may not even experience any pain. So how can you know if you have gingivitis? Do you have to wait until your regular visit to the dentist?
No. Even though this is a mild disease, it does show symptoms that you can look for on your own, in between dental cleanings. For example, if you’re gums are healthy, they should appear pale pink and should feel firm. Anything else is a sign of possible gingivitis. Other signs include:
- Bad breath that continues throughout the day
- Gums that are swollen, soft or puffy in any way
- Gums that have pulled back to reveal more of your teeth
- Gums that feel tender or painful, even occasionally
- Gums that bleed during flossing or brushing
- Gums that are darker and redder than the healthy pink
Are You at Risk for Gingivitis?
While poor oral hygiene is the ultimate cause of gingivitis, some people are more apt to get the disease than others. Fortunately, this is one disease that doesn’t depend on your genetic makeup. Here are the risk factors for contracting gingivitis:
- Bad or no oral hygiene routine
- Unhealthy diet
- Advanced age
- Disruptions to your hormonal balance (women only)
- Dentures that don’t fit properly
- Cigarette smoking
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Diabetes (any stage)
- Immunity disorders and some infections
- Certain prescription medicines
- Having a consistently dry mouth
Dental Cleanings Can Help
Regular visits to the dentist prevent gingivitis because your hygienist can catch the symptoms early. But that means you and your family should visit the dentist twice a year, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Don’t take chances with your family’s teeth.
If you are between dental visits and notice any of the symptoms listed above, don’t hesitate to call your Asheville dentist. Often, we can find an opening in the schedule and get you in for the dental cleanings you need. It’s important not to let it go. Remember, you can prevent gingivitis, but if you don’t act soon, the result may be periodontitis.
—The Zöe Dental Team