Gingivitis is an infection in the gums, also known as a periodontal infection, and it is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. In its early stages, gingivitis is easily treated. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious gum infections like periodontitis, tooth loss, and even loss of jaw bone structure. Gingivitis is a common condition amongst children as well as adults, and is the most common cause of adult tooth loss. A recent study found that nearly 75% of adults have some form of gingivitis or gum disease.
Gingivitis does not often cause pain, so many people are not aware that they have it. Gingivitis is caused when the bacterial deposits known as plaque build up at and below the gum line. A proper dental hygiene routine is often enough to prevent gingivitis, and a twice-annual thorough dental cleaning is also an important factor in gingivitis prevention. Common symptoms of gingivitis include red or swollen gums, chronic bad breath, mouth sores, a bad taste in the mouth, loose teeth, and gum recession.
In the majority of cases, gingivitis can be stopped and even reversed with a thorough professional dental cleaning and a good oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouth wash. If gingivitis has progressed, a dentist or hygienist may perform a procedure called scaling, during which tartar and plaque are removed from the teeth, both above and below the gum line.