Healthy, robust gums are the supportive foundation of strong, resilient teeth. Unfortunately, gum disease is an exceptionally common problem — and a leading cause of adult tooth loss — in the United States.
Nearly 1 in 2 American adults aged 30 or older shows signs of early gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis. At Smiles in Springfield in Springfield, Virginia, Dr. Quang Tran, Dr. Truc Duong, and our team focus on prevention, early treatment, and reversal to prevent advanced gum disease that requires long-term periodontal therapy.
Take a moment as we explain the ins and outs of gingivitis, including how attentive oral care can help you restore healthy gum tissues, avoid advanced gum disease, and prevent tooth loss.
Understanding gum disease
Gum (periodontal) disease is an inflammatory oral health condition that occurs when your gum tissues become infected. It’s usually the result of poor brushing and flossing habits, which allow a sticky film of bacteria called plaque to build up on tooth enamel and at the gumline.
When plaque persists, it eventually calcifies into hard, stubborn tartar that can’t simply be brushed away — it can only be removed by professional dental tools. Having just a little bit of lingering plaque and/or resistant tarter is all it takes to set the stage for early gum disease.
Without care, mild gingivitis can easily progress into advanced gum disease, a chronic and irreversible condition that gradually erodes healthy gum tissues, destroys supporting tooth structures, and undermines your oral health.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis
As damaging as advanced gum disease can become, it’s worth remembering that virtually all cases of periodontitis (severe gum disease) start out as gingivitis.
Early gum disease, or the inflammatory buildup of sticky plaque where your gums meet the base of your teeth, is mild and can often be reversed with the right approach. Before you can act, however, you must first be able to recognize the problem’s tell-tale signs.
You may have some degree of gingivitis if you notice that any area of your gums:
- Appears noticeably swollen or puffy
- Feels tender or painful when you brush
- Looks dusky red or dark red in color
- Tends to bleed when you brush or floss
Persistent bad breath is another common symptom of gingivitis. When looking for early-stage gum disease, it’s helpful to know that healthy gums are firm, light pink (not red), and fit tightly around your teeth.
When gingivitis goes unchecked
When gingivitis goes unnoticed and unaddressed, it progresses through the stages of gum disease. As gingivitis advances into a more serious form of gum disease, it can cause more severe symptoms, including:
- Receding, bleeding, or highly sensitive gums
- Pronounced pockets between your teeth and gums
- Persistently bad mouth odor or foul breath
- Loose teeth or continuous pain when chewing
Gum disease often starts in one spot and gradually spreads to other areas. For many people, it begins at the back of the mouth, around the molars, where only your dentist can detect early signs of mild gingivitis.
Once it progresses past the gingivitis stage, gum disease is a chronic, irreversible condition that must be managed properly to avoid infection, prevent tooth loss, and preserve your oral health.
Yes, you can reverse gingivitis
Luckily, you can stop gingivitis in its tracks, reverse its damage, and prevent its progression with prompt, attentive dental care.
Often, all it takes to stop mild gingivitis is a professional dental cleaning and exam, followed by consistent, attentive daily oral hygiene habits at home between regular preventive care appointments.
To address moderate gingivitis during a professional dental cleaning, we remove all traces of plaque, tartar, and bacteria through a treatment known as scaling and root planing.
Scaling removes tartar from your tooth enamel and beneath your gums; root planing smooths the root surfaces, discourages further plaque and tartar buildup, and promotes healing.
Given that proper brushing and flossing is key to preventing the resurgence of gingivitis, our team takes time to let you know exactly where your oral hygiene habits appear to be falling short. We help you learn proper oral care techniques to keep you on the right track.
If you’ve noticed the signs of early gum disease, don’t delay — call 703-634-4239 to schedule your next dental exam at Smiles in Springfield in Springfield, Virginia, today.