While some people might think gingivitis is only something the elderly should be concerned about, they would be wrong. In fact, gingivitis can affect anyone at any age, even children and teenagers. Gingivitis is a preventable disease with regular bi-annual visits to a dentist in North York, along with regular brushing and flossing at home.
What Causes Gingivitis?

One of the more frequent causes for gingivitis is poor dental habits and avoiding regular dental checkups. Gingivitis is caused by bacteria contained in plaque. Plaque is a sticky-like, clear substance created when we eat and drink. When plaque is left on the tooth surface, especially near the base of the tooth and gum line, as well as in between the teeth, it eventually hardens and turns into tarter.

Tartar essentially creates a protective barrier between the tooth and outer surface, while trapping the bacteria in between. As a result, the bacteria can infect the gums and cause them to become sore, swollen, and inflamed, which is gingivitis. If left untreated, sometimes the bacteria that remains below the gum line can trigger a series of immune responses that can cause loss of bone that support the teeth, and this is called periodontitis.

Periodontitis is not to be taken lightly, as it can lead to irreversible damage to the gums, tooth loss, and increase risks for heart disease and certain cancers.

What Is the Difference between Plaque and Tartar?

Plaque is a combination of bacteria, residual food and salivary proteins. It is soft and can be easily removed by brushing or flossing. But Tartar, which is also called “calculus” is calcified plaque and it is hard and sticks to the tooth tenaciously. Tartar must be removed by the use of hard scraping instruments or the use of an ultrasonic cleaner. This is usually performed by a dental hygienist.

Common Gingivitis Risk Factors

Not only is poor dental habits an underlying cause for gingivitis, but there are also certain lifestyle choices, heredity, and medical conditions that can increase the risks for developing gingivitis, like:

  • Drug and Substance Abuse
  • Tobacco Usage
  • Improper Diet/Nutrition
  • Dental Appliances (Dentures, Bridges, etc.) Do Not Fit Correctly
  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Certain Viral and Fungal Infections
  • Certain Medications
  • Lower Immunity Response
  • Hormone Level Fluctuations
  • Common Gingivitis Symptoms

The body provides many cues that you might have gingivitis. One of the more common signs is a change in the colour of the gums. Healthy gums should feel firm and be pinkish in colour. Gums infected with gingivitis feel soft, might look swollen or inflamed, and are of a darker reddish colour. Other symptoms your body uses to make you aware of the problem, include:

  • Chronic Bad Breath
  • Soreness/Tender Gums
  • Gums Bleed Easily After Brushing and Flossing
  • The Gum Tissue Is Receding Away from the Base of the Tooth

Keep in mind, you may only exhibit some, but not all of the above symptoms and could still have gingivitis. The only way to find out is with a diagnosis from your North York dentist.

If you notice any of the symptoms of gingivitis, schedule an appointment at our North York dental clinic. Do not wait until your next regular checkup appointment. The sooner gingivitis is detected, the easier it is to treat. In fact, gingivitis is curable, unlike periodontitis. Contact Dr. Carol Waldman now at 416.445.6000 to learn more about gingivitis, periodontitis, or to schedule a dental appointment.