What is Gingivitis?

Damage from gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the most basic form of periodontal disease (gum disease) which involves inflammation of the gums. This minor inflammation of the gums is a common dental problem & is not serious in itself, but does represent a larger issue that may result in the loss of teeth when the cause is left untreated. Periodontal disease and gingivitis are preventable through the proper, daily maintenance of teeth and occasional visits to the dentist. When left untreated, gingivitis can become Periodontitis which, additionally, involves the loss of bone tissue and is treated as a much more serious gum condition.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

Red gums from gingivitis.The presence of Gingivitis is characterized by symptoms including:

  • Dark red or purple colored gum tissue
  • Inflamed or swollen gums
  • Gums that consistently bleed during flossing or brushing
  • Bad breath or Halitosis
  • Tender gums that might hurt to touch
  • Receding gum line resulting in exposure of tooth root surfaces

Early gingivitis detection is critical in treating the underlying cause. Early treatment of gingivitis can save you thousands of dollars and many visits to the dentist’s office over time as this disease can cause an abundance of serious issues. Take a loot at the preventative dental treatments we have to offer.

Many symptoms may be minor or unnoticeable with mild cases of gingivitis, but still represent a serious issue that should be treated by a dentist. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gingivitis, then get help from an experienced dentist today at Carson & Carson, DDS in Oxnard, California. Call today to schedule an appointment (805) 983-0717.

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Gingivitis Before and After Pictures

Before and After Tooth Whitening & Gingivitis

Causes of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first sign of periodontal disease and is directly caused by the buildup of plaque on the surfaces of teeth. It is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene that leads to a layer of plaque forming on teeth and the eventual loss of teeth from gum disease.

Gingivitis develops through a process that involves:

  •  Formation of plaque layer on teeth – Plaque is a layer of bacteria that grows quickly when your teeth interact with food. When not removed by daily brushing or flossing, plaque is left on the surface of teeth causing irritation and triggering an immune response in the gums. This symptoms in this step of the process can be so mild that they go unnoticed.
  • Excess plaque hardens into tartar – When left on teeth, plaque can harden into tartar making it even more difficult to remove and causing further irritation of the gums. Tartar acts to protect the plaque layer on teeth by creating a protective barrier and worsens the irritation of the gum tissue.
  • Gingiva (gums around your teeth) become inflamed – Tartar irritation of the gums leads to a stronger immune response and further inflammation of the gingiva. Over time, this irritation can cause the gums to become tender and swollen resulting in bleeding during brushing or flossing. When left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a far more serious version of periodontal disease known as Periodontitis.
  • Periodontitis – This stage of periodontal disease involves the destruction of gums and bone tissue that surround teeth as the immune system reacts to infection in the gum line. The irritation of the gums caused by excessive plaque on the teeth triggers an aggressive response from the immune system where the body destroys the tissue and bone surrounding teeth in order to rid itself of the infection. This stage of the process can still be unnoticed, and may result in the loss of teeth through eventual loosening. The best plan for treating this level of periodontal disease is avoiding it altogether through preventative action and a solid oral hygiene routine.

Risk Factors for Gingivitis

Risk factors for gingivitis.

Certain lifestyle choices can put you at greater risk for suffering from gingivitis during your lifetime. Some of these factors include:

  • Age: Gingivitis becomes more likely to occur as we age.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Poor oral hygiene habits can lead to the buildup of plaque and early gingivitis occurrence. Determining the state of your current oral health can give essential clues that may lead to early gingivitis detection.
  • Medical Conditions: Diabetes, certain cancers, and HIV all put you at greater risk for suffering from gingivitis and periodontal disease. In general, any condition that weakens your immune response increases your risk of getting gingivitis.
  • Dry Mouth: Having a reduced amount of saliva in the mouth can result in plaque buildup that can lead to gingivitis. Conditions that cause or worsen the effect of dry mouth also indirectly put you at risk for gingivitis.
  • Tobacco Products: Smoking or chewing tobacco can result in a number of health issues especially in areas around the mouth and throat. The use of tobacco products not only puts you at greater risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease, but also increases the risk of encountering oral cancers.
  • Genetics: Genetics and family history do play a role in your risk of developing periodontal disease. If your parents have ever had gingivitis, then you might be at greater risk for developing it too.
  • Vitamin C Deficiency: Those who take on diets that have unsatisfactory levels of Vitamin C have historically seen a higher incidence of periodontal disease.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: Pregnancy, puberty, and menopause are accompanied by hormonal changes that can cause the gingiva to become more sensitive resulting in an increased risk of inflammation of gum tissues.
  • Prescription Drugs: Drugs that cause dry mouth can indirectly contribute to periodontal disease. Some drugs that are used to treat epilepsy, angina, and high blood pressure have been known to create dry mouth which can lead to periodontal disease.

Treatments for Gingivitis

Prevent gingivitis with daily brushing.Gingivitis can be treated or prevented at home with the maintenance of proper dental hygiene habits and good lifestyle choices. Treating gingivitis at home may involve:

  • Brushing twice and flossing at least once daily – Proper care for your oral hygiene is the number 1 thing that will help prevent gingivitis.
  • Using antiseptic mouthwashes – Keeping the mouth clean and free of bacteria is a huge step in preventing gingivitis
  • Applying oral antibiotics to treat bacterial infection in the mouth – Plaque is a form of bacteria, and certain antibiotics have proven effective in stemming the infection that is brought upon gums from the presence of plaque.

Professional treatment for gingivitis is available from your dentist. Treatments could include:

  • Deep Cleaning – A deep cleaning involves major removal of plaque and tartar through the scaling and planing of teeth and can help ease the irritation that is being caused by the presence of excess bacteria on the surface of teeth
  • Gum Flap Surgery – When a deep cleaning is not sufficient enough to remove excess plaque buildup, flap surgery may be used to lift back gums and remove plaque and tartar from the deep pockets from the root surface of teeth.
  • Bone Grafting – Replacing and repairing the lost bone structure that is caused by advanced periodontal disease such as Periodontitis can be done with a procedure such as bone grafting. In cases of minor periodontal disease such as gingivitis, bone grafting is not a commonly used treatment.

Untreated periodontal disease can result in severe recession of the gumline over time which can lead to oral infection, dental cysts, or even the need to pull a tooth.

Gum Disease FAQs

What are the main stages of gum disease?

When it comes to understanding how far gum disease has progressed, it has 3 distinct stages which can include:

  1. Gingivitis. The earliest stage of the onset of periodontal disease. This stage mainly includes inflammation but does not typically involve major consequences for bones & connective tissue in the mouth.
  2. Periodontitis. Includes many of the same symptoms as the Gingivitis stage, but additionally, irreversible damage has been done to teeth or surrounding tissue.
  3. Advanced Periodontitis. This stage occurs when there is severe damage to the gum tissue that results in the loosening or loss of teeeth.

Is damage caused by Gingivitis reversible?

Of the 3 main stages of dental disease, Gingivitis is the only stage where the damage done is fully reversible. Both of the other two stages involve some type of permanent damage to the appearance or functionality of your teeth or surrounding tissue.

What are the different types of gum disease classifications?

Periodontitis is classified into different categories based on the rate of its progression and the types of damage it causes. These are the main types of Periodontitis:

  1. Periodontitis as a complication of another health condition. A number of diseases such as leukemia, diabetes, and heart complications can lead to the onset of periodontitis, and for these cases, the disease is classified differently because it is the direct result of another health condition.
  2. Necrotizing Periodontitis. This is a type of Periodontitis that is characterized by a rapid death in gum tissue, bone density & ligaments and is most often caused by malnourishment or a compromised immune system. A patient commonly experiences intense pain with this type of gum disease.
  3. Chronic Periodontitis. This is the most common form of the disease. It progresses slowly and causes inflammation, gum recession, and loss of bone support over time.
  4. Aggressive Periodontitis. This is a less common form of gum disease which results in a more rapid loss of gum tissue when compared to Chronic Periodontitis, but is not nearly as severe as the Necrotizing form.

Gingivitis Treatment You Can Trust at Carson & Carson, DDS

Since 1970, our experienced dentists have helped thousands of patients prevent and treat periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and Periodontitis. We have saved many teeth from early retirement & saved our patients millions in dental costs with this preventative care. Get help today from veteran Oxnard dentists with over 45 years of experience at Carson & Carson, DDS located in Camarillo and Oxnard, California. Find affordable dental services across all fields of dental specialties available from caring and seasoned dentists (805) 983-0717. We are also proud to offer 24/7 availability for emergency dental treatment.

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Lamont Yvon
22:50 15 Mar 18
I have had a lot of procedures including 8 implants. There is no better dentist office than Carson and Carson. Dr. Derek Carson (the son of Dr. Leroy Carson) is FANTASTIC! He has learned well from his father (who still works there). Papa is the MAN!, and has been for years. Insane amount of knowledge. The Doctors are THE BEST! The support staff is fun and professional always. I will never go anywhere else.
Ana Castellanos
04:37 06 Aug 22
Excellent service. Dr. Derek was the only emergency oral surgeon to respond, everything was done so fast and without pain. Highly recommended, Carmen is his amazing front office manager, she is highly professional and knowledgeable. I had very painful broken wisdom tooth removed. I can honestly say I have waited longer at the Starbucks Drive thru. Thank you!!!
Laura Lassiter
18:32 15 Mar 18
The BEST dental office in Ventura County!! Super friendly staff, easy to schedule appts, no issues with insurance processing, and Dr. Carson makes sure you are always comfortable and pain-free when getting any work done. I've been a patient for over 7 years now and I couldn't be happier! I highly recommend!