What’s in a Word? Gingivitis.

8560251313_9f38f8afe6In our last blog post, Advanced Family Dental, your Lakewood CO dental clinic, discussed the impacts of gum disease worldwide– and how to prevent it. After some thought, we decided that we’d also tackle one of the most prevalent gum diseases seen here in the US: gingivitis.


Well, part of our philosophy at Advanced Family Dental is patient education. If you don’t have a medical background, the phrase “gum disease” and all the technical words used to describe it may sound intimidating. It’s important to Dr. Matheson and your team that our patients understand the meaning behind medical jargon so you are empowered to take charge of your own great oral health!

So we chose this technical word: gingivitis

Gingivitis means inflammation of the gingiva. The suffix “itis” means inflammation, and the term “gingiva” refers to your gums! Other “itises” that come up pretty commonly, especially for those of us who have kids, are conjunctivitis (or pink-eye), and tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils, often due to an infection like a cold).

Like pearls, gingivitis is caused by constant irritation

When people lapse in their oral hygiene by failing to brush or floss regularly, bacteria around the gum line tends to hang out– creating colonies, eating, and multiplying very rapidly. These colonizing bacteria irritate your gums, and your body deals with this by issuing an inflammatory immune response: swelling, redness, and pain.

The signs and symptoms of gingivitis is directly related to this inflammatory response:

  • red, dark red, or even purple-ish gums
  • swollen gums
  • painful gums
  • bleeding with brushing, flossing, or eating
  • unpleasant odor

Gum disease again

As we mentioned in the previous post, gingivitis is one type of gum disease. In fact, it is probably the most common type of gum disease out there and it exists on a spectrum: there can be very mild gingivitis, with only a small amount of gum irritation and inflammation, or there can can be severe gingivitis, which is far worse.

The important piece to note is that gingivitis can be a precursor to far more serious gum disease, the most notable of which is arguably periodontitis. In addition, many studies are showing that the inflammatory response in the mouth may effect other aspects of our health as well– such as heart health.

Gingivitis is highly treatable

Unlike other forms of gum disease, gingivitis is a condition that is usually reversible. How? Through better oral hygiene. In fact, dentists who see mild gingivitis in new patients view this as a sign or a “wake up call” that daily oral hygiene needs to be improved. Stricter brushing schedules, regular daily flossing, and the use of fluoride rinses are usually all it takes to clear up a case of gingivitis.

Exceptional preventive care, like the kind you find at your favorite Lakewood, CO dental clinic, is the best medicine to treat gingivitis. Make sure you are up-to-date on your appointments with Dr. Matheson, and click here to schedule! We look forward to seeing you.

Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

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