Well we see it all the time on tv, mouth rinses and tooth pastes that, "fight germs that cause gingivitis", but what is it? Gingivitis is a form of gum disease which in limited only to the gums. It can be caused by bacteria, medications or by being pregnant. Yes, one more thing that pregnancy does to the body! Signs of gingivitis are: bleeding gums, red and puffy/swollen gums and bad breath. "Bleeding gums" is probably the most common sign.
Gingivitis is concerning because it can lead easily to the next stage of gum disease called periodontitis if it is not treated. The damage of periodontitis can be irreversible and be expensive to treat. Imagine that the amount of skin from your elbow to your wrist equals the amount of skin in your mouth. If this area was bleeding, you would probably go straight to the ER. When gums bleed, it means that there is an open wound that bacteria will use to cause damage to the surrounding tissues of teeth. Research has begun to link gum disease to general health problems such as cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies and diabetes. It makes sense that the mouth is a doorway to your body. If it has increased amounts of bacteria, it is likely to get into your general circulation.
Periodontitis is a more damaging form of gum disease because the bacteria reach the underlying bone that holds your teeth in place. Bone loss results in gum recession and loose teeth. Severe bone loss results in tooth loss all together even though teeth are cavity free. Signs of periodontitis can be: loose teeth, bad breath and changes in your bite.
So how do you know if you have gum disease? Bleeding gums is the main sign. Also, if you haven't had a professional cleaning in over a year, there is a good chance that there is something developing in your mouth. Even if you are the best flosser and brusher, professional cleanings remove bacteria that can't be reached at home. Gum disease usually doesn't hurt until it gets into the advanced stages and by then, it can be too late to save teeth. Just like high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer, we want to detect it BEFORE symptoms occur The best defense is to get a check up and stay up on professional cleanings.