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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Philadelphia

Gingivitis is a common dental problem that affects the gingiva, more commonly known as gum tissue. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is usually characterized by inflammation, swelling and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, it usually progresses to periodontal disease, which can cause the loss of your teeth due to the breakdown of supportive tissue in your gums.

At our dental office, we can provide you with expert diagnosis and treatment options for gingivitis and other forms of gum disease. This will help you enjoy the best dental health now and for many years to come. Discovering gingivitis early can significantly reduce risks to your teeth and your overall health. Routine visits with our dental experts is the best way to keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy.
How Common Is Gum Disease?

Gingivitis and more serious forms of periodontal disease are extremely common in the United States, with the CDC reporting that nearly half of people over 30 suffer from gum disease. Studies released by the American Academy of Periodontology show that about 56 percent of men develop periodontal disease compared with 38 percent of women. And, the risk of gingivitis and gum disease goes up with age— nearly 70 percent of senior citizens over 65 have some form of periodontal disease.

Tooth Loss and Gum Disease

While mild cases of gingivitis may pose few risks to patients, the disease can progress and cause the loss of permanent teeth and severe inflammation and infection of the gums. Chronic periodontitis is the most advanced type of gum disease and is associated with the loss of both bone and tissue, which weakens the supportive structures inside your gums and can cause teeth to become loose and fall out.

What Are the Most Common Signs of Gingivitis?

Knowing the warning signs of gum disease will help you and your family get treatment more quickly. Regular dental examinations will enable your dentist to spot problems with your teeth or gums. These are some of the most common symptoms of gingivitis and gum disease:

  • Blood on floss or your toothbrush after caring for your teeth
  • Discoloration of your gums to a purple or dark-red color
  • Receding gums and an uneven gumline
  • Pain or discomfort when touching or brushing your gums
  • A feeling of looseness or unevenness in your teeth
  • Spaces that develop between teeth
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath

Gingivitis is often painless and may not be noticed right away. Our team can help you with fast diagnosis and effective treatments to stop gum disease from causing further damage to your teeth and gums.

Plaque Is a Significant Contributing Factor to Gum Disease

Plaque is a common factor in both tooth decay and gum disease. This sticky substance forms on teeth when bacteria combine with food debris to create bacterial colonies inside your mouth. The process speeds up when sugary foods and drinks are consumed, without brushing right after eating them.

Flossing and brushing teeth properly can remove most plaque from your mouth. If plaque is not thoroughly removed, however, it can harden into tartar, also called calculus, which is a hard substance that forms over bacteria. Professional teeth cleaning is required to remove most tartar and reduce your risk of inflammation of the gums.

Practicing Proper Dental Hygiene

Taking good care of your teeth and brushing them after each meal or snack is one of the most effective methods for protecting yourself against gum disease. Flossing is also important and will help to dislodge food and bacteria from between your teeth. One of the most important steps, however, is to schedule regular teeth cleanings at our office. Our team will examine your teeth and gums to diagnose any developing problems, including gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Added Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

In some cases, you may have an even greater potential for developing gum disease. Some of the most common health issues that can result in a higher risk are:

  • Dentures or bridges that do not fit properly and irritate the gums
  • The use of tobacco, both smoking and chewing
  • Diabetes
  • Medical conditions that suppress the immune system
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Medications that cause a condition known as dry mouth
  • Lack of vitamin C in your diet
  • A family history of periodontal disease

Diabetes is especially problematic because it appears to be both a contributing factor to some cases of gum disease and also a potential result of the dental condition. Patients who have a family history of diabetes should make regular dental appointments to ensure that any type of gum disease is treated quickly.

Serious Side Effects of Gum Disease

Gingivitis generally does not produce immediate problems. As it progresses, however, the bacterial infection and inflammation can cause serious side effects that could cause health problems for some patients.

  • A type of stroke called acute cerebrovascular ischemia has been linked to the presence of gum disease and oral infections.
  • Respiratory illnesses may be the result of aspirating infectious bacteria through the mouth in patients with periodontal disease.
  • Especially in men, gum disease has been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers, including pancreatic, kidney and blood cancers.
  • Heart disease is also more common in people suffering from periodontal disease.

Our dental team will work with you to treat gum disease and help you avoid unwanted complications. Call us today to schedule an appointment with our gum disease experts. We look forward to helping you maintain good oral health.

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