Is Gingivitis A Sign of A Dental Emergency?

Is Gingivitis A Sign of A Dental Emergency?

April 26, 2022

If you’re searching for a short answer to the title question, it would be, “it depends.” The more resounding answer depends on whether or not you want to keep your teeth long-term or risk eventually losing them to gum disease. And since gingivitis is a type of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss when not treated, the degree of emergency is based on each individual’s desire to keep their teeth and smile healthy and functional.

The Basics of Gum Disease and Gingivitis

The terms “gum disease” and “periodontal disease” are often used interchangeably. Gingivitis affects the gum area at the base of your teeth, also known as your gingiva. Your gingiva should be pink and tight around the base of your teeth when healthy. When unhealthy, you will notice symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and puffiness
  • Red-colored (instead of pink-colored) gums
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Gum tissue that recedes or pulls away from the base of teeth
  • Bad breath, which may only be noticeable by others
  • Tenderness in your gums when eating and chewing

As an emergency dentist in Dover, NH, our doctors at Belknap Dental Associates treat patients during every phase of their gum disease. Our team of dentists includes a Periodontist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all types of periodontal disease.

Causes and Stages of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is almost exclusively the result of poor oral hygiene. Many people reading this may think, “I brush and floss as my dentist recommends, so I’m not at risk for gingivitis.” However, the key flaw in this belief is whether or not professional teeth cleaning has been included in their preventive oral healthcare. Even the most diligent brushing and flossing habits can not replicate the degree of protection against gum disease that professional teeth cleaning provides. Here’s an example of why:

Gingivitis has several distinct stages. It starts with plaque forming on your teeth. It then progresses to plaque turning into tartar. This early plaque and advanced tartar will inflame and irritate the gingiva if not removed by professional teeth cleaning. At this stage of the disease, there is a marked increase in risk for infection, damage to a patient’s alveolar bone, swollen lymph nodes, and tooth loss. If left untreated, gum disease advances to a condition known as periodontitis which can strain a patient’s immune system and the previously mentioned complications.

Rather than taking risks with your oral health with complications such as these, which some may view as a dental emergency, regular dental exams and cleanings can help keep gum disease at bay and prevent you from searching for an emergency dentist for gingivitis concerns.

Keep in mind, however, that in addition to the dental concerns already mentioned, untreated gingivitis can lead to life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Respiratory disease
  • Blood sugar complications

Also, even if you are diligent with your preventive dental care, certain factors increase your risk of periodontitis. These include:

  • Smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco
  • Hormonal changes
  • Family history
  • Certain medications
  • Conditions that lead to decreased immunity
  • Diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes

Many patients who are concerned about the presence of gum disease will often try an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment as their first course of action. While certain OTC products can help reduce the risks of gum disease, there is no substitute for the deep cleaning provided in professional dentistry.

Early Treatment of Gum Disease is the Best Treatment

There is a range of treatments that our Periodontist will use to treat gum disease. The most common for early treatment is scaling and root planing. The scaling portion involves the removal of built-up plaque that has accumulated above and below your gum line. The planing portion of the procedure smooths the roots of your teeth (which are more than likely inflamed) to discourage the repeated build-up of harmful bacteria.

Please get in touch with us today to learn more about gum disease treatment near you.

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