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What is Gingivitis?

graphic of teeth with unhealthy gumDuring your dental cleaning, you may have heard the word “gingivitis.” This is the early stage of gum disease. It means that there is a slight bacterial infection in your gum tissue. Gingivitis is common, and it can be cared for, but if caution is not taken it can also become worse. Discussing the signs, symptoms and steps that can be taken with our hygienist at Pine Belt Periodontics, PLLC, can help you be aware of what to look for and what you can do to prevent it.

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is a condition that if left unattended can lead to much larger issues including tooth loss.

How did I get Gingivitis?

There are several factors that come into play when discussing gingivitis, namely plaque, food debris, sugar and bacteria. All of these things are frequently present in our mouths, and we can combat them with brushing and flossing. When we don’t brush or floss properly, then the plaque that collects on our teeth and along the gum ridge can remain. The bacteria from our food and in the air we breathe will feed on the sugars in the plaque and happily thrive while eroding our enamel and infecting your gum tissue.

Do I have Gingivitis?

You can spot the signs of gum disease, though it may take an evaluation from our hygienist to determine the severity of the problem. Looking in a mirror, you may note one of the following symptoms:
•  Do your gums appear red, puffy or irritated?
•  Do you have a sour taste or smell that you can’t seem to get rid of?
•  Are you experiencing any pain or discomfort in your gum tissue?
•  Do your teeth appear longer in size?
•  Are you seeing any blood when you brush or floss?

All of these symptoms could be an indication that infection is present.

Your Professional Dental Cleaning

During your regular professional dental cleaning, our hygienist will evaluate the health of your gum tissue. This includes tracking and measuring your gum pockets and spotting the symptoms associated with infection. Gum pocket depth exceeding 3mm is an indication of a problem, and we may find that a deeper cleaning is needed. This is done through scaling.

Scaling is done with both an ultrasonic scaler and a hand scaler. The ultrasonic scaler is similar in concept to a power wash for your teeth. It uses a directed stream of oxygenated bubbles and a vibrating tip to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth both above and below the gum line. We then complete a step known as root planing. This is the smoothing of the roots around your teeth. We do this to make it more difficult for plaque to attach again, and also to stimulate a healing response from your gum tissue.

Following this cleaning, we may provide you with information about steps you can take at home including improved technique and we may even prescribe an antibacterial wash. Having healthy gums is important to your oral health.

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