Gingivitis is one of the most common forms of gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around half of adults over the age of 30 have gingivitis or some form of gum disease. The early stages of the disease can be treated by practicing proper dental hygiene and getting routine cleanings from the dental office. However, later stages may need specialized treatment to prevent infection.
If you have sensitive gums or need a cleaning to prevent or treat gingivitis, Dr. Scott Greenhalgh can help. He can create a treatment plan for you while providing other general dentistry services. If you need help improving your gum health, call us today at 303-988-9060. We serve patients from Lakewood, Denver, Golden, and the rest of Colorado.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that causes swelling, bleeding, and irritation of the gingiva due to inflammation caused by plaque buildup. If the plaque on your teeth isn’t cleaned, the bacteria in the plaque start to inflame the gums. It is this inflammation and early infection that leads to the symptoms of gum disease.
What causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis occurs when there is a buildup of bacteria and filmy plaque on the teeth. There are several factors that increase your risk of gingivitis, including:
- Poor dental hygiene
- A dry mouth
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, birth control, etc.)
For most people, however, poor dental hygiene is one of the largest factors contributing to gum disease.
What are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?
Some of the most common symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Swollen, receding, or bleeding gums
- Plaque buildup
- Bad breath
- Sensitive teeth
While the symptoms are minimal at the beginning, gingivitis should be treated as soon as possible.
How is Gingivitis treated?
Gingivitis is usually reversible with a combination of good oral hygiene and professional cleaning. We will monitor your gum health and provide treatment recommendations to restore dental wellness. If you are instead in the advanced stages of periodontitis, Dr. Greenhalgh can help stop the progression with root planing and deep scaling treatments.
What Happens if Gingivitis is Left Untreated?
While gingivitis starts out relatively mild, it can progress into a more serious form of periodontitis if left untreated. Eventually, the plaque will harden into tartar, causing infection and tooth loss. Research also suggests that severe periodontal disease has a strong link with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.
How can I Prevent Gingivitis?
The most effective way to prevent gingivitis is to maintain good dental hygiene. Make sure you brush your teeth twice per day and floss regularly to reach the spots that your toothbrush misses. Another good way to prevent gum disease is to visit a dentist every six months for a cleaning. Dr. Greenhalgh can remove tartar buildup, spot gingivitis in its early stages, and help prevent tooth loss.
Are There Any At-Home Remedies For Gingivitis?
The at-home remedy for gingivitis is improved oral hygiene. Remember to:
- Brush twice per day, for two minutes each time
- Floss once every day
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
These measures can reverse the progression of gingivitis in many cases.
If you think you have gingivitis, you should visit Dr. Greenhalgh. While it’s possible you need only to improve your at-home routine, it’s important to find out for sure. Dr. Greenhalgh will determine if gingivitis is present and how far it has progressed. He may recommend a deep dental cleaning and other treatment measures in addition to dental hygiene at home.
If you smoke, you should quit. Doing so will likely help to reverse gingivitis. Quit any other tobacco use as well.
There are dietary and lifestyle habits that may reduce the amount of plaque buildup between your teeth. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit or dramatically reduce the amount of added sugar you consume (soda, sports drinks, candy, baked goods, etc.). Drink water throughout the day. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Consider using an electric toothbrush if you don’t already because it can clean more effectively in certain cases.
Can Gingivitis Return After Treatment?
Yes, it is possible that gingivitis will continue to worsen after treatment. It depends on the severity of the condition and other factors. It’s important to continue to visit Dr. Greenhalgh so he can monitor your care. He will evaluate the inflammation and make sure you know what to do in order to manage the condition. Generally speaking, improved dental hygiene is an effective way to manage gingivitis long term.
When Should You Contact A Dentist For Gingivitis Treatment?
You should contact the practice of Dr. Greenhalgh if you notice:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Inflamed gums
- Tender gums
- Chronic bad breath
These are all symptoms of gingivitis that should be evaluated by an experienced dentist.
It’s also important to mention any new or continuing symptoms at your routine dental cleaning. These regular visits are an opportunity to check in about your oral health and make sure everything’s on track.
How Long Will It Take To Eliminate Gingivitis?
It depends on the severity of the gum inflammation, as well as genetic predisposition and whether any underlying health conditions are contributing to gingivitis. When you visit Dr. Greenhalgh and recommit to at-home oral hygiene, you may see a difference within several weeks; it could also take longer or shorter. The important thing is to stay committed and stay engaged with your dental health. You will begin to see benefits when you do so.
What Is Recovery And Aftercare Like For Gingivitis Treatments?
Aftercare and recovery depends on the treatment recommended by Dr. Greenhalgh. If you need to improve your at-home routine and receive a regular professional teeth cleaning, then there is no recovery.
If Dr. Greenhalgh recommends scaling and root planing, you may experience redness, irritation, sensitivity, tenderness, and bleeding gums for a few days after this type of deep cleaning. Discomfort can be alleviated with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Soft, easy to chew foods are recommended, as well as gentle brushing for a few days.
How Does a Regular Cleaning Differ from a Deep Dental Cleaning?
When you are seeing the signs of gingivitis, it's time to see the dentist. Here at our Lakewood, CO dental office, our goal is to help you avoid the progressive gum infection that begins with minor inflammation. Regular dental cleanings, along with routine dental exams performed every six months, are a significant aspect of achieving this goal.
Regular dental cleanings are intended for maintenance. We perform these cleanings to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This conservative cleaning may involve the use of special instruments to clean, floss, "scale", and polish your teeth. Scaling in this cleaning is done to remove tartar that has accumulated near the gumline but not below it. Sticky plaque may also be scraped off using the scaler, or it may be removed through the general cleaning that is done using a rotating brush. Deep dental cleanings are often referred to as scaling and root planing. The hygienist may perform this more comprehensive cleaning if you show signs of more advanced gingivitis or gum disease. In these situations, gum recession may have started, and plaque and tartar have moved beneath the gum line. Whereas a regular dental cleaning occurs in a single visit and cleans the entire mouth, a deep cleaning focuses on one area at a time. You may have inflammation and the beginning of infection in just one area of your mouth. Your dental exam will alert us to the area that may require a little more attention.
How Do I Know When I Need More Than a Regular Dental Cleaning?
Having gingivitis is not cause enough for a deep dental cleaning. The purpose of deep cleanings is to remove debris and tartar that have accumulated below the gum line, where these substances pose a risk to your teeth roots. Dr. Greenhalgh may advise you to have a deep cleaning if:
- Your dental symptoms indicate you may have more severe inflammation or infection. Examples include persistent bad breath, bleeding when you brush or floss, and redness and swelling of the gums.
- Visible calculus (tartar) is seen during your dental exam. If the tartar is adjacent to the gum line and cannot easily be removed using the manual scaler, a deep cleaning may be needed.
- Your dental exam has revealed that you have gum pockets measuring more than 5 millimeters deep. Where pockets are deep, there is a high likelihood of them having accumulations of plaque, bacteria, and debris.
Provided that you maintain your six-month recall visits on a consistent basis, there is little chance that you will require a deep dental cleaning. Our preference is to help you avoid deeper inflammation and infection by maintaining your oral health using the most conservative methods.
Schedule a Gingivitis Check Up Today
If you want to learn more about preventing gum disease or need treatment for gingivitis, contact Dr. Greenhalgh today at 303-988-9060 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Greenhalgh will provide you with a variety of treatment options and preventative measures to keep your teeth healthy. We proudly serve patients from around Colorado, including Golden, Lakewood, and Denver.