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gingivitisIf your gums are red, sensitive and sore, and at times bleed when you brush your teeth, you may have Gingivitis. Gingivitis is gum disease in its mildest form. Most people at one time or another has had gingivitis, but because the symptoms are mild, people tend to overlook it. Sore gums are not to be taken lightly because if left, it can turn into periodontis, which is a severe type of gum disease. Periodontis in the long run can lead to tooth loss. The good news is that with proper oral care you can reverse the signs of gingivitis.

What causes gingivitis?
If you don’t brush, floss and rinse your mouth daily, a sticky film of bacteria and food particles stick to your tooth surface. This is called plague. Plague release acids which cause tooth decay when it attacks your tooth enamel. If left plague, after 72 hours, becomes tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist. Tarter only forms on the gum line, and this makes it difficult to clean your teeth and gums properly. After some time this plague starts to irritate the gums which then become inflamed, causing gingivitis.

Can gingivitis become periodontis?
No, this is not always the case. It depends on how the individual persons’ body responds to the build up of plague and bacteria in their mouth. Below are factors which may contribute to developing periodontis:

Bacteria – there are about 400 different types of bacteria present in the mouth, and of these 400 only 15 of them can cause periodontis
Genetics – studies have shown that 30% of people develop periodontis due to genetics
Uncontrolled Diabetes– because of the high risk of infection in diabetics, they are more likely to develop periodontis. It is also harder to control diabetes if you have gum disease
Smoking – research has shown that smoking could be the cause of 75% of periodontal disease

It is very important that you go see your dentist at the first sign of gum irritation, as there is no way to know who might or might not develop serious gum disease.

The symptoms of gingivitis

Even though you might have gingivitis the symptoms might be so mild that you might not even notice that you do have it. But over time you might start to notice:

That your gums are red, swollen or can even turn purple in colour. Healthy gums are pink and firm. Your gums bleed when you brush them. Your gums are sore and tender to the touch. You start getting mouth sores.

If you have a suspicion that you have gingivitis, look at your oral care hygiene, and try to see where you might have slacked off. For example have you remembered to floss?

It is advised to visit your dentist regularly, at least every 6 months or so to get a proper cleaning and a check up. Also, to make sure you are brushing correctly see our article about the correct way to brush your teeth. If you brush your teeth twice a day and floss and rinse at least once a day the gingivitis should start to clear up after about a week.