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Gingivitis: Symptoms and Causes in Virginia

Gingivitis is a serious issue in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC, gum disease affects about 47 percent of those 30 years of age or older in the United States. In the initial, milder stages of gum disease, this condition is called gingivitis. Treating gingivitis early is the best way to manage this dental condition and prevent lasting damage to your teeth and gums. Here are some of the most important facts to keep in mind about gingivitis and periodontal disease to ensure the best dental health for you and your family.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is a common dental condition that affects the soft tissues of the gums. In the early stages of the disease, it is known as gingivitis and is characterized by swelling, inflammation or puffiness and redness of the gums. As the disease progresses, however, pockets can form between your teeth and gums. Over time, these pockets fill up with bacteria, plaque and tartar that can further weaken the gum tissue supporting your teeth. This can lead to discomfort, loosening of your teeth and the eventual loss of teeth to gum disease. Treating this dental issue in its early stages is essential to protecting your long-term oral health.

Common Symptoms of Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

Gum disease can easily go unnoticed because it can be painless, especially during the initial stages of gingivitis. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of gingivitis and gum disease include:

  • Changes in the color of your gums, especially to a dark red or purplish color
  • Swelling or puffiness around your gums
  • Blood on your toothbrush or dental floss
  • Tenderness or pain in your gums or when chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in the appearance or function of your teeth
  • Halitosis, more commonly referred to as bad breath

These symptoms can begin as mild issues that may not be noticed right away. Regular dental appointments at our office can provide you with the early diagnosis you need to ensure the healthiest teeth and gums now and in the future.

Who Is at Risk?

Nearly half of all adults will develop gum disease at some point in their lives. Men are more likely to develop periodontal disease. About 56 percent of men will develop gum disease compared with just 38 percent of women. The risk of periodontal disease goes up with age. People aged 65 or older have a 70 percent chance of developing periodontal disease. A few risk factors can increase these odds even further to make gum disease more likely for some individuals.

Poor Dental Hygiene a Factor in Some Cases

Failing to brush and floss your teeth properly on a regular basis is a common contributing factor to gingivitis and gum disease. Plaque is a bacterial film that builds up on teeth over time. If not removed regularly, it can cause irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding teeth. This tissue is called gingiva, and inflammation or infection of these areas is known as gingivitis.

Sugary and starchy foods are among the most common culprits in the formation of plaque. Inside your mouth, these substances combine with bacteria to create a thin layer of plaque that can be removed by regular brushing and flossing. If it is not removed completely, however, the plaque can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar, which is much harder to remove. Your dentist will typically use specialized instruments to remove tartar deposits from your teeth during routine teeth cleaning procedures.

Our team of gum disease dentists can provide you with the preventive services needed to promote improved dental health and identify the first signs of gum disease before it becomes a serious threat to your teeth. Regular teeth cleaning visits can remove plaque and tartar to maintain the healthiest teeth and gums.

Added Risk Factors

There are additional risk factors that can make it even more likely that you could develop gum disease:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Hereditary factors, including the presence of gum disease in your family history
  • Diabetes
  • Decreased immunity because of illnesses or other medical conditions
  • Poor diet that may include a deficiency of vitamin C
  • Medications that cause dry mouth
  • Partial dentures or bridges that do not fit properly
  • Hormonal issues

In some cases, fillings that are improperly seated or fabricated can also cause inflammation, which could lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar and a significant increase in your risk of periodontal disease.

Risks of Gum Disease to Your General Health

Periodontal disease can affect more than your teeth and gums. Medical studies have linked gum disease with a number of other conditions, which may include some or all of the following:

  • The American Academy of Periodontology has found a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. While no direct causal relationship has been established, individuals with gum disease may be at greater risk of cardiovascular issues.
  • In some cases, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel to the lungs and cause respiratory distress or illness. This occurs during the normal act of breathing.
  • Patients with periodontal disease may be at higher risk of a type of stroke called acute cerebrovascular ischemia.
  • Men who suffer from gum disease may also be at higher risk of certain types of cancer, including kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers.
  • Periodontal disease can lower the ability of patients with diabetes to control blood sugar, putting them at higher risk of serious complications from this disease.

Prevention and Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Our dental team will provide you with the best preventive care to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you do develop gum disease, we can provide you with aggressive treatment options to prevent the progression of the disease and promote the best dental health for you and your family, now and in the future. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to the chance to serve you.

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