Bloomington, IL dentist answers “Is gingivitis gum disease?” and other questions about treatment and cures
The health of your mouth is important to leading a healthy lifestyle. Preventing common dental issues such as gum disease and decay is important to maintaining oral health. When educating our patients about preventable dental conditions, there is a lot of confusion surrounding symptoms and diagnosis. Many patients wonder is gingivitis gum disease? Or is there a cure for gum disease? In the following article, we will examine some of the frequent questions about gum disease that we encounter daily in our Bloomington, IL office.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and the only stage that can be completely cured or reversed. Gingivitis is characterized by gums that are red, inflamed, and bleed easily during brushing and flossing. Chronic bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth can also be signs of gingivitis. Individuals who notice these symptoms should make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible.
When your doctor discovers gingivitis, the first step is to remove plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth. Next, they will use a tool to measure the depth of any pockets that have formed between the gums and teeth. In a healthy mouth, the pockets should be between 1 and 3mm. Measurements of 4mm or more may indicate gum disease. In addition, any cavities that are found will need to be filled.
After the mouth has been cleaned and inspected, individuals will be given instructions for proper brushing, flossing, and homecare. While most patients should visit the dentist twice yearly, patients with gingivitis may need more frequent check-ups to ensure the mouth remains healthy.
Tips for brushing at home: While you have been brushing your teeth your entire life, you may not be using the correct techniques. Place a soft bristled toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, brushing along the gums in a circular movement. Continue these slow, short strokes as you clean all surfaces of the teeth. It’s important to be gentle to avoid irritating sensitive gums. After brushing is complete, flossing should be done to remove any food debris stuck between teeth. Brushing takes about two minutes when done correctly.
Things you can do at home to prevent gingivitis from recurring:
- Improve oral hygiene, brush teeth twice daily and after every meal
- Use an electric toothbrush as it may be more effective at removing plaque and tartar
- Floss or use a Waterpik
- Maintain regular dental exams and cleanings
- Quit smoking
How is gum disease different from gingivitis?
When gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses to gum disease, or periodontitis. When this occurs, the infection continues to impact the tissue, deepening the periodontal pockets. Over time, dentures or other restorations may begin to stop fitting properly and permanent teeth can loosen, shift, or fall out.
Once gum disease has advanced, treatment becomes more involved. In addition to eliminating the infection, many patients also require bone or tissue grafts along with dental implants, bridges, or dentures to fully restore the mouth.
Gum disease occurs due to plaque buildup. Eventually the plaque will harden into tartar and irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and infection. There are also other risk factors that can contribute to gum disease such as:
- Health conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease
- Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Certain medications
- Poor nutrition
- Teeth that are crooked and difficult to clean
Gum disease is a common condition that affects up to half of all adults over the age of 30. Practicing good oral hygiene habits and knowing the early symptoms can play a key role in maintaining your oral health. At Eastland Dental Center, we are experienced in diagnosing and treating gingivitis and advanced gum disease. Our number one priority is helping our patients enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles through our comprehensive variety of general, restorative, and cosmetic dental services. To find out about our services, call our office at (309) 663-4711.Back to Gum Disease Page