Over 50% of adults have gingivitis on three to four teeth. Most gingivitis is caused by the buildup of plaque and biofilm; common symptoms include halitosis (or bad breath) and bleeding gums and teeth during routine brushing.
While gingivitis is irritating, the disease on its own will not cause irreversible damage. In fact, most people will experience gingivitis at some point in their life. However, gingivitis can increase your risk for more serious conditions if left untreated, and it’s best to maintain good oral hygiene to avoid it all together.
Why is Gingivitis Dangerous?
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to inflammation and gum disease. In fact, 70% of gum disease cases can be linked to gingivitis. These problems can eventually worsen into periodontitis, a severe gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone around teeth, loosening the support for the tooth. Unlike gingivitis, the damage from periodontitis is irreversible.
Not only can this damage lead to tooth loss, it can also increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other major health problems.
How Can You Prevent Gingivitis?
Schedule regular checkups with a dentist or oral hygienist every 6-12 months. This helps prevent disease and increases your overall oral hygiene. Dentists can also scrape away tartar buildup that prevents you from removing tougher plaque with a basic toothbrush.
However, it’s estimated that only a third of dentists check thoroughly for gum disease, so speak up and let your dentist know if you have concerns. You should also clean your teeth with a toothbrush and floss multiple times daily. These cleaning sessions should take between three to five minutes for maximum efficiency.
Gingivitis and periodontitis start with oral hygiene. Keep your teeth clean and you may be able to avoid both altogether.