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Do your gums appear slightly red or puffy? Do you have discomfort when brushing your teeth or flossing? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be in the early stages of gum disease. Commonly known as gingivitis, this infection in the gums can begin as being mild but can become more serious if left untreated. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene.

Symptoms of gingivitis may include gums that are swollen or puffy and may bleed easily when you’re brushing or flossing. Your gums can recede and may be tender to the touch. You may begin to notice some bad breath.

Proper dental hygiene helps remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque is mostly bacteria that sticks to teeth in an invisible layer when starches and sugars interact with the bacteria naturally found in your mouth. Plaque needs to be removed regularly because it comes back quickly, usually within 24 hours. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar and may require a professional dental cleaning to remove.

Certain factors can contribute to your risk of developing gingivitis. We’ve already mentioned poor cleaning habits but having a dry mouth or poorly fitting dental restorations can make a significant contribution. Different medical conditions like diabetes, having a decreased immunity, certain medications or experiencing a hormonal change can increase your risk. Also smoking cigarettes, using tobacco or other substance abuse may lead to gingivitis. Viral and fungal infections, old age and poor nutrition may also be a factor.

If left untreated, gingivitis could become periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. It could also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke or lung disease. Women who are pregnant may be at a higher risk for a premature baby with a lower birth weight if they have periodontitis.

Prompt treatment can usually alleviate the symptoms of gingivitis and stop its progression. For an appointment with Complete Dental Care, or for any questions or concerns, please call us at 740-229-4180. Our dentist in Dennison, Ohio, would be happy to help you get back to a healthier you.