Gingivitis is a common condition that affects the gums. The word comes from Latin “gingiva” meaning gum, and “-itis” meaning inflammation, which describes how swollen the gums become. The gum infection can be caused by poor oral hygiene or simply plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. Many people ignore gingivitis because they think it is a minor condition, but in fact, it can cause a series of problems that can lead to more serious health issues. In this blog post, we will discuss how bad is gingivitis on your oral and general health and how it is treated.
What’s Gingivitis & How It Develops?
Gingivitis is a non-destructive form of gum disease. It usually occurs due to poor oral hygiene, which causes plaque buildup on teeth and gums. Dental plaque is a sticky film that slowly builds up on the teeth and gums. It is made up of many bacteria, which decompose the food you eat and produce acids. These acids irritate the gums and make them inflamed and swollen. The gums also bleed easily when brushing and flossing. This is how plaque and bad bacteria can cause gingivitis. Learn more about the differences between gingivitis vs healthy gums.
Causes & Risk Factors
- Poor oral hygiene, which leads to plaque build-up on teeth surfaces. Also, poor oral hygiene causes white tongue.
- Smoking tobacco products. Read more about does smoking causes tooth decay & gum disease.
- Dry mouth.
- Nutrition, e.g. low intake of vitamin C can increase risk.
- Eating foods that are high in sugar.
- Hormonal imbalance, e.g. during pregnancy (pregnancy gingivitis), menstruation, and menopause.
- Taking medications, like steroids and antidepressants.
- Medical conditions that weaken the immune system (such as HIV/AIDS).
- Familial history of periodontal disease.
How Bad is Gingivitis on Oral Health?
Gingivitis is the start of gum disease, and very few people realize that they have it because it causes no pain. Even so, the beginning stage can show signs such as red, swollen gums, bleeding gums, bad breath, and mild gum recession.
Gingivitis is not a serious condition, but it can lead to periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease. Periodontitis damages the gums and bones, which support the teeth. Eventually, this leads to tooth loss. The bad effects of periodontitis on oral health include:
- Pain with chewing.
- Persistent bad breath. If you still have bad breath despite good oral hygiene, gum disease may be the cause.
- Pockets forming between the teeth and gum are filled with debris.
- Pus-filled abscesses in the gums.
- Moderate to severe gum recession.
- Tooth mobility and shifting.
- The development of spaces between teeth.
- Tooth loss in severe cases.
Untreated gingivitis can have bad effects on how you eat, speak, or smile. So, you should treat it early before it progresses to periodontitis. Learn more about the differences between gingivitis vs periodontitis.
Effects of Gum Disease on General Health
The bad effects of gum disease are not exclusive to the mouth. Gum disease is linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. So, how can untreated gingivitis become bad for your general health?
If the beginning of gum disease is left untreated, the infection spreads to the tooth-supporting tissues, causing periodontitis. Researchers suggest that gingivitis-causing bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs, such as the heart and brain, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, or dementia. Gum disease is also linked to:
- Respiratory disease (pneumonia).
- Premature births and low birth weight.
- Raise the blood sugar and make it harder to control diabetes.
Therefore, you should not ignore the early gingivitis symptoms and know how bad gingivitis is for your oral and general health.
Treatment of Gingivitis before It Becomes Periodontitis
Treatment of gingivitis in adults means controlling plaque buildup on teeth and gums. It also involves treating the underlying causes of the problem. Gingivitis is a reversible condition that requires non-surgical treatment, which includes good oral hygiene practices and professional teeth cleaning at the dental office.
If the infection spreads to the tooth-supporting tissues (periodontitis), it can cause permanent damage. In severe cases of periodontitis, the dentist recommends surgical treatment, which involves:
- Gum flap surgery for scaling and root planing.
- Pocket reduction surgery.
- Gum graft to cover exposed roots.
- Bone grafting to rebuild bone that supports your tooth.
How to Prevent the Bad Effects of Gingivitis?
Maintaining good oral health is crucial for the prevention of gum disease. Here is how to prevent the bad effects of gingivitis on your health:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily to clean in between teeth and remove food and plaque buildup.
- Visit your dentist once every six months for professional teeth cleaning.
- Avoid sugary foods or drinks that may increase your risk for gum disease.
- Eat a diet rich in nutrients.
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco products.
- Quit smoking or reduce the amount of smoking.
- See your dentist right away if you experience any of the signs or symptoms, whether they are mild or severe.
Contact your doctor if you suspect that your prescribed medication is causing bad side effects, such as dry mouth or gingivitis.
How Bad Is Gingivitis – Conclusion
Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the gums that can become bad for your health if left untreated. If not treated early enough, it may lead to periodontitis, which is linked to several health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. So, how to protect yourself against the bad effects of gingivitis?. To prevent these negative effects on oral as well as general health: brush and floss your teeth regularly, and visit your dentist once every six months for professional teeth cleaning.