Gingivitis – Symptoms & Prevention

One of the most common dental conditions is plaque-induced gingivitis. Gingivitis is often evidenced by swollen gums (or “gingiva”) that almost look like they’re going to bleed at some point. Being a periodontal disease, gingivitis destroys gum tissues that surround and support the teeth – also taking the collateral damage are the periodontal ligaments and the tooth sockets. Unattended and untreated gingivitis may lead to a more severe condition called “periodontitis”, which often leads to the loosening of teeth and ultimately, sudden tooth loss.

Symptoms of gingivitis include:

1. Swollen gums, tender and reddish/blackish gums.

2. Bleeding gums (try softly brushing your teeth and check your toothbrush for blood).

3. Pus (or in medical terms, abscess) around the teeth.

4. Bad breath or halitosis

5. Yellowish teeth caused by tartar buildup

6. Bitter sense of taste

7. Sensitive gums

8. Frequent gum ulcers

Over time, large deposits of plaque will accumulate in the teeth if one doesn’t brush regularly. Plaque, in its pure form, is a transparent, sticky material comprised of all the dirt accumulated in the mouth as we eat. When that plaque hardens, it becomes tartar or “calculus”. Teeth with tartar are clearly distinct from healthy teeth because of the yellow/brownish pigmentation of tartar-stricken teeth. And removal of tartar is no simple task – a dentist/hygienist will have to scrape it off entirely. But the good news is that plaque buildup can easily be prevented by brushing and flossing the teeth to rid the mouth of food debris and bacteria.

But plaque does not solely cause gingivitis.

Other medical conditions may trigger the onset of the periodontal disease:

1. Poorly fitted mouth braces, dentures, amalgam/composite fillings and other dental appliances.

2. Puberty – on the onset of the menstrual cycle for females

3. Pregnancy – due to body’s radical hormonal response to dental plaque

4. Diabetes – due to insufficient blood sugar control and blood regulation.

5. Leukemia – due to the body’s weakened state of blood regulation, it cannot easily fight bacteria buildup in the teeth.

6. Malnutrition – triggers a chain effect of other medical conditions caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

7. Scurvy – often caused by little or no fruits and vegetables in one’s diet.

8. Pellagra – caused by Vitamin B3 deficiency. Niacin is the one responsible in regulating hormones and blood circulation.

The most proven ways to prevent gingivitis and to bring back your gums back to their once healthy state is by:

1. Brush your teeth on a daily basis. Use toothpastes with high concentrations of fluoride.

2. Floss in between your teeth after you are done brushing.

3. Gargle with dentist-recommended mouthwash to prevent plaque buildup and to eliminate bacteria.

4. Don’t smoke. Smoking compromises almost every major body organ and also the skeletal structure.

5. Reduce alcohol intake.

6. Avoid eating sugary foods and junk foods.

And more importantly, see your dentist at least twice a year to know what other kinds of preventive measures you can incorporate into your oral hygiene. Gingivitis is an unsightly condition, so one should always be protective of his/her teeth and gums and always follow the dentist’s advice.