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Do you think your gums are slightly red or puffy? Are they uncomfortable when brushing your teeth or flossing? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be in the early stages of periodontal disease. Commonly known as gingivitis, this infection in the gums can be mild but could potentially become more serious if left untreated. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene.

Symptoms of this condition may include gums that are swollen or puffy that may bleed easily when you’re brushing or flossing. Your gums can recede and may be tender to the touch. You may even have some bad breath.

Good dental hygiene helps remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque is mostly bacteria that sticks to teeth in an invisible layer. It forms when starches and sugars interact with the bacteria naturally found in your mouth. Plaque needs to be removed regularly because it reproduces quickly, usually within 24 hours. If not removed it hardens into tartar and may require a professional dental cleaning to remove.

Certain factors could contribute to your risk of developing gingivitis. We’ve mentioned poor cleaning habits but having a dry mouth or poorly fitting dental restorations can increase your chances. Medical conditions like diabetes, having a reduced immunity, certain medications or experiencing a hormonal change can increase your risk. Smoking cigarettes, using tobacco or abusing other substances may lead to gingivitis. Viral and fungal infections, old age and poor nutrition can increase your chances of developing gingivitis.

If untreated, gingivitis may become periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. It could also increase your chances of a heart attack, stroke or lung disease. Women who are pregnant may be at a higher risk for having a premature baby with a lower birth weight if they have periodontitis.

Getting treatment quickly can usually take care of the symptoms of gingivitis and end its progression. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rai, or for any questions or concerns, please call us at 540-657-0867. Our dentist in Stafford, VA, would be happy to assist you in getting back to a healthier you.