Proper dental care can prevent this common gum disease.
By Lynn Yoffee
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
If your gums are irritated and frequently bleed, you may have gum disease, also called periodontal disease. There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis reflects mild to moderate inflammation of your gums (or gingiva). Without proper dental care, it can progress into a more serious condition, called periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss and destruction of the jaw bone.
There is also evidence that untreated gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. But by practicing good oral hygiene — brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and getting regular dental checkups and cleanings — you can prevent gingivitis and other more serious oral health problems.
Causes of Gingivitis
Gingivitis typically results from poor dental care. Plaque, a substance that develops from bacteria, mucus, and food particles, can stick to your teeth, causing tooth decay. Without regular dental care to remove plaque buildup, it will harden into tartar and sticks to the base of your teeth. Both plaque and tartar lead to gingivitis.
In addition to poor dental care, other causes of gingivitis include injury to your gums that can result from overly aggressive brushing and flossing, tobacco use, hormonal changes during pregnancy, and poorly controlled diabetes. Additional causes of gingivitis include:
- Improperly aligned teeth
- Poorly fitting braces, crowns, and dentures
- Certain medications, such as Dilan