July 9th, 2015
When it comes to mouths, people typically care most about their teeth. But your gums are just as important as your pearly whites. Gums hold your teeth together, keep them protected from bacteria, can give you bad breath, and can even affect your overall health. So how do you know how healthy your gums are? Our dental experts are going to walk you through the differences between the look and feel of gums with gingivitis vs. healthy gums.
What is Gingivitis?
Many people have gingivitis without even knowing it. You might even have it as you’re reading this now. Since it’s a mild form of gum disease, it can be hard to detect. But it’s very common. Gingivitis occurs when the bacteria in plaque build up around your gums, causing a variety of reversible symptoms. Symptoms of this early stage of gum disease include gum swelling, receding, pain, irritation, bleeding and redness. If you don’t treat gingivitis, it can lead to more serious gum disease, or periodontitis, which is the primary cause of adult tooth loss.
What Do Healthy Gums Look and Feel Like?
As long as you take good care of your gums and teeth with daily flossing and brushing, your gums should be pretty healthy. Here are some of the features of healthy gums:
- They look pink, although this may vary depending on your natural complexion. If gums are white, red, or unnaturally black, you may have gingivitis or gum disease.
- They are firm and unable to be moved.
- They are tight around your teeth teeth.
- They haven’t receded.
- They don’t bleed when you brush your teeth or eat hard foods.
- They aren’t swollen or puffy.
What Does Gingivitis Look and Feel Like?
- They look and feel swollen.
- They bleed easily when you brush your teeth, eat or get your teeth cleaned by the dentist.
- They are occasionally painful, tender or irritating.
- They feel soft to the touch.
- Their color changes from pink to red.
- You have bad breath.
- Your gums are receding.
What Causes Gingivitis?
The most common cause of gingivitis and gum disease is plaque. Plaque is made up of bacteria that irritates your gums and eats away at your teeth enamel. It forms around your gums and teeth when the food you eat interacts with the normal bacteria in your mouth. That’s why it’s important to get food and plaque out of your mouth by thoroughly brushing and flossing.
The longer plaque is left in your mouth, the more likely it is to harden and turn into tartar. Tartar is much more difficult to get rid of than plaque, typically requiring a dentist to remove. It’s basically like a shield for bacteria to eat away at your gums and teeth. If left untreated, this eventually leads to your gums becoming very irritated and unhealthy as you begin to develop gum disease.
As long as you only have gingivitis, you can always get rid of it with proper oral hygiene techniques and a visit to the dentist. Don’t let gingivitis cause irreversible damage by developing into more serious gum disease. If you think you might have gingivitis, book an appointment with us at Water Tower Dental Care. Our number one Chicago practice can let you know the status of your gums and put you on the right path to a healthier smile.