While gingivitis might be a fairly common form of gum disease, it's important to be aware that if left untreated, it's only the beginning of the story. Gingivitis can develop into serious periodontal disease which can result in tooth loss, generally through a combination of decay in the teeth and destabilization of the gums (wherein the gums are no longer capable of supporting your teeth). Gingivitis is often the first sign that something is wrong, and quick action is needed to reverse its effects. Some of this can be achieved yourself, and some of it might require professional assistance. So what are these warning signs?
Blood when brushing or flossing is a key sign. This means that the gum line has become inflamed and bleeds easily. Isolated bleeding that can be attributed to a particular mishap (such as over-vigorous flossing) do not necessarily point to gingivitis, but consistent bleeding can.
If bleeding gums have become a common occurrence, take a close look at your gum line in a well-lit mirror. Can you see any inflammation (generally darker, irritated-looking tissue on the gum line)? Does it appear that your gums might be receding (which is when the curve of exposed tooth at the gum line seems to be elongating)?
Is your breath bad regardless of what you've had to eat? Again, isolated occurrences of bad breath might not be a sign of gum disease on their own, and yet when coupled with other symptoms, it can be a clear and potent warning sign.
Get Professional Assistance
You will need to visit your dentist as soon as possible if you should notice any of these warning signs that have led you to suspecting you might have gingivitis. Your dentist will likely perform scaling, which is an intensive cleaning process designed to remove plaque buildup. It's more exhaustive than a standard cleaning (even a cleaning performed by a dentist) and will greatly improve the overall health of your teeth, helping to nip that gingivitis in the bud.
Your dentist will also discuss your oral hygiene practices with you. Don't be afraid of receiving a lecture if your practices have become a little bit too relaxed. Your dentist needs to receive an comprehensive and honest assessment of the situation so that they can give you practical advise. This might include using specific products, upgrading your toothbrush, and increasing the frequency of your cleaning.
It's not as though gingivitis is going to go away of its own accord, and it's important that you take the necessary steps to stop it in its tracks before it becomes a more serious form of gum disease.