What causes gingivitis is a long list.
Gingivitis develops over time, and it can appear as a result of seemingly unrelated issues.
What causes gingivitis?
The primary cause of gingivitis is a bacterial infection. There are many factors which lead to this infection.
After eating, plaque begins to form on the teeth. Without enough attention to removing the plaque it eventually forms tartar. This tartar is much harder to remove with regular day-to-day brushing. You may have seen the dentist remove tartar during a deep clean using a sharp metal pick.
Once the plaque and tartar invade the gum line, the gums become inflamed. This inflammation gets worse and the gums start to appear red and swollen. Brushing and flossing now tends to cause bleeding. It’s at this point that most people realize something is wrong and consult their dentist.
So, the infection occurs when the plaque and tartar invade the gumline. But what causes the buildup of plaque and tartar? That’s where the long list comes in. We got to this point for a variety of reasons:
- Lack of thorough brushing and flossing
- Irregular brushing and flossing
- Poor diet
- Medications like antidepressants
- Broken fillings
- Illnesses which cause a compromised immune system
- Perpetually dry mouth
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
The primary symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Red, swollen, and tender gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
Additional symptoms which may be experienced are:
- Sore gums
- Pockets, or gaps, between the teeth and gums
- Loose and wobbly teeth
- Bad breath (the type which makes others recoil)
- Sensitivity (both teeth and gums)
What causes gingivitis to get worse?
Gingivitis gets worse, and becomes gum disease, due to a lack of attention in the gingivitis stage. “Lack of attention” means not improving your current dental care regime.
Once gingivitis is recognized you need to take action and improve the thoroughness and regularity of brushing and flossing. Regular deep-cleaning should be scheduled with your dentist (ideally this should be an annual visit followed by self-care recommendations from your dentist).
Failing to take this action on your gingivitis will mean you’re looking down the barrel of gum disease. At the gum disease stage the symptoms are more severe (potentially losing teeth and extremely bad breath). Recovery from gum disease is a more complicated and drawn-out process of more cleaning, antibiotics, and perhaps surgery. It therefore never pays to ignore gingivitis.
Is gingivitis contagious?
Gingivitis is inflammation caused by an infection due to plaque and tar invading the gum line. Technically it is not a contagious disease. Having said that though, the bacteria generated from the gingivitis infection can be passed via saliva. It’s best to avoid kissing and sharing of utensils if you have gingivitis.
What gingivitis treatment can I use?
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. As it’s the early stage it’s the easiest to treat simply by changing your habits.
The best way to reverse gingivitis is to brush and floss after every meal. Replace your brush once a month to keep your improved brushing habits as optimized as possible.
Use a natural antibacterial toothpaste. By using a natural antibacterial you remove the harsh chemical “stripping” effects of foaming agents and fluoride found in regular toothpastes. The best natural antibacterials come in a lipid-based formula which leaves a thin protective film on your teeth and gums for added protection between brushes.
Further reading: How to get rid of gingivitis in 6 simple steps.
Now that you’re brushing and flossing more regularly, book an appointment with your dentist for a deep clean. During the deep clean your dentist will remove plaque and tartar, effectively revitalizing your mouth. After the clean it’s now up to you to continue the dentist’s good work and maintain the fresher breath and cleaner teeth and gums.