Learning about Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease caused most often by poor oral hygiene. It affects about 8 in 10 Americans, which is quite a lot of people.  Dentists recommend brushing and flossing day and night for healthy teeth and gums.   This habit of good oral hygiene can help you avoid some major health issues, aside from giving you whiter and brighter teeth.  Brushing and flossing give you a way to rid the mouth of disease causing bacteria.  When there is poor oral hygiene, bacteria and debris form a sticky plaque on teeth along the gum line.  This plaque causes gums to swell and redden, becoming inflamed.  Often, if allowed to progress, gums will get red, swollen and bleed easily. Gingivitis can negatively affect many teeth, or just one depending on the location.  If left untreated, gingivitis can havemore serious health effects – ranging from more serious gum disease, tooth loss, or other more serious systemic health problems. 

Bad oral health, and gum disease can do more than ruin your gums and teeth. Statistically, those who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to have coronary artery disease and are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.  This means damage in the major blood vessels of the heart.   Researchers theorize that bacteria from your mouth can worsen and inflame plaque in the heart vessels, and will ultimatelyincrease the risk of clots and heart attack.


Aside from being bad for your heart, gum disease has been associated with increased risk of memory loss, diabetes, infertility and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  In the case of memory loss, oral bacteria is said to be able to spread infection to the cranial nerves and blood stream and contribute to the brain plaque that causes cognitive function diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  In diabetics, the likelihood of gum disease is more likely as they are more prone to infection.  But healthier gums can help improve the symptoms of diabetes itself.  As far as COPD is concerned, the bacteria in your mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause inflammation and infection.  This means gingivitis puts you at an increased risk for respiratory infections and worsen the symptoms of infections like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.  For women trying to get pregnant, gingivitis puts you at higher risk for miscarriage and makes it harder to conceive at least by a few months.

If you have gingivitis, what treatments are available?

• Professional dental cleaning

• Scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)

• Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery (gums are pulled back and tarter is removed)

• Bone grafts (bone used to replace bone destroyed by gum disease and stabilize teeth)

• Soft tissue grafts (reinforces weakened, thin gums)

• Antibiotic treatments (to eliminate gum disease bacteria)

How can you prevent gingivitis? : 

• Brushing twice a day 

• Flossing at least once a day 

• Visiting your dentist for a regular checkup and professional cleaning 

• Not smoking 

• Eating a healthy diet