The First Signs of Gingivitis

It’s easy to overlook subtle signs of a problem, particularly when it comes to oral health. Although some problems will improve naturally on their own, ignoring the signs of a problem like gingivitis gives it time to progress to more advanced stages. During a routine examination, dentists and hygienists look for signs of trouble, but may not catch everything if the patient does not mention very subtle signs or sensations. Learning to recognize the symptoms and point them out will help catch problems early, when they can be fixed with relative ease.

Bleeding gums are the most common sign of gingivitis patients think to look for, but it is not the only early sign of trouble. Red, sore, and/or swollen gums can indicate inflammation or irritation. This is not always gingivitis, but it can be a sign. When food particles, plaque, tartar, and other substances creep into the gumline and are not effectively removed through daily flossing and brushing, they can irritate and inflame the gum tissue causing redness, swelling, and soreness. If not treated early, this can lead to deep pockets, which are increased spaces between teeth and gums that collect larger amounts of food and plaque.

When the irritation is allowed to continue, sometimes due to inefficient brushing and flossing habits, patients can develop a persistent bad taste in the mouth that may or may not be accompanied by persistent bad breath. As the deep pockets develop, the gums may start receding, exposing sensitive parts of teeth. Teeth may also begin to shift or move, and may feel loose. When gingivitis advances significantly, teeth may loosen enough to actually fall out, but this is rare in patients that see the dentist regularly for annual or twice-yearly cleanings and checkups.

During daily at-home oral care and routine dental visits, the gums should not easily bleed. Flossing daily and brushing at least twice daily will help stimulate healthy blood flow to the gum tissue and remove irritants from between teeth and along the gumline. If gums begin bleeding regularly or bleed significantly, this should be brought to the attention of the dentist immediately to ensure fast, effective treatment.

To learn more about properly caring for teeth and gums to help them last a lifetime, contact our experienced dentistry team today!