What is gingivitis, and how can I treat it?

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. When caught early, it can be treated and reversed.

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque.
Plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that adheres constantly to the teeth and gums. If plaque isn’t removed by daily brushing and flossing, it produces toxins that irritate the gums and cause gingivitis.

At the early stage of gum disease, damage can be reversed. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis and can cause permanent damage to the teeth, connective tissue, and jaw.

Classic symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, and tender gums that may bleed when brushed. Another sign is the gums receding or pulling away from your teeth. Your teeth may have an elongated appearance. Some people may experience recurring bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth due to plaque and food debris collecting in pockets that form between the teeth and gums. With severe gingivitis, gum recession can require surgical repair.

Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to the prevention of gingivitis. You can prevent gingivitis by engaging in the following practices:

● Proper brushing and flossing to remove plaque and control tartar buildup
● Eating right to ensure proper nutrition
● Avoiding cigarettes and other forms of tobacco
● Scheduling professional cleanings and checkups with your dentist

Gingivitis is primarily treated by removing the source of the infection. Most cases
can be managed and reversed by simply practicing good oral hygiene and keeping regular dental appointments. Professional cleanings can reduce your risk for gum disease and the health risks associated with periodontal disease.

If you are experiencing painful teeth or gums, have bleeding while brushing, or your gums are tender, swollen or receding, you should see a dentist right away. Gum disease in its advanced stages is irreversible and can cause permanent damage to the teeth, mouth, and jaw.

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