Gingivitis starts when a bacterial growth in your mouth caused by plaque build-up and causes the gums to become inflamed. Plaque is the sticky colourless film that forms on your teeth and is where bacteria lives. If the plaque is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, it will harden and create tartar. When tartar forms, it makes teeth more difficult to clean properly and plaque can then easily be missed when brushing. When this happens the plaque builds up more, and the acids released by the bacteria in your mouth, are likely to break down your tooth enamel and cause cavities.
However, once tartar has formed, it is too hard to be removed by a brush and can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. The process for removing it is called scaling. During a scaling visit the dentist or hygienist will use special instruments to remove the tartar from the teeth, and above and below the gum line depending on the severity. During the scaling the dentist or Hygienist can tell if gingivitis is present by swollen or bright red gums, bleeding gums before or after cleaning, tender or painful gums to touch or bad breath. Gingivitis is a non-destructive periodontal disease, that if treated can be reversible with good oral hygiene. If tartar is not removed and gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into a more serious gum disease known as periodontitis.
Good dental habits can prevent gum disease from happening:
- Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist
- Brush teeth at least twice a day
- Use dental floss daily
- Use mouth wash that reduces bacteria
- Limit your intake of sugary sweets
- Cut down on harsh acidic foods
- Drink milk and other dairy foods to reduce acid levels in the mouth