Toothaches are common but can be caused by anything from common tooth decay to serious gum infections. Toothaches are a symptom of gingivitis and can cause immense pain and aggravation. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, call your dentist for an appointment immediately.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of periodontal disease (gum disease) that causes gum inflammation, irritation, and redness of your gingiva, the part of the gum around the base of your teeth. Toothaches from gingivitis can begin when plaque, a film of bacteria, builds up along the gum line and causes the gums to become infected.
If your gums are healthy, they will be firm and pale pink and fitted tightly around the teeth. Gingivitis can begin as gum redness or bleeding when brushing your teeth or using dental floss, and you may notice halitosis or bad breath. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), common warning signs of gingivitis include:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Teeth appear longer
- A pocket between the tooth and gum
- Bad breath
- Pus between the tooth and gum
If not treated, gum inflammation can become worse, leading to soft tissue damage, receding gums, the formation of pockets between teeth and gums, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss.
Gingivitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, allowing plaque to form on teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria. Plaque reforms quickly and requires daily removal. If left on the teeth, it can harden under the gum line into tartar, which collects bacteria. Professional dental cleanings are the only way to remove tartar.
If the tartar and plaque is left on the teeth for long periods of time, it can irritate and inflame the gums, causing an infection. Tooth decay can also occur. If not treated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis and eventual tooth loss.
If gingivitis is left untreated, gingivitis can progress in severity into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a much more serious form of gum disease that can cause premature wear of teeth that can worsen over time and even result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease may also increase the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (hardening of the arteries).
Gingivitis can be prevented with a good, daily oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene consists of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day and flossing at least once a day. This will keep your teeth, gums, and bones around your teeth healthy.
Regular dentist visits can also help prevent gum disease. You should visit your dentist regularly for cleanings every six to 12 months. If you are showing symptoms of gingivitis, you may need professional cleaning more often.
Straight, properly aligned teeth can also help you avoid the negative effects of periodontal disease. They are easier to brush and floss and can lower your chances of having plaque retention, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Ask your doctor about straightening your teeth using Invisalign, clear aligners used to gradually straighten your teeth.
When To Contact The Dentist
If the symptoms listed above don’t match up with your toothache, it may be something else. However, if a toothache lasts more than 1-2 days, feels severe, or is accompanied by a fever, or a headache, you should consult a dentist immediately.
If you think you may have gingivitis, or any other form of gum disease, schedule an appointment with us today. Our dental professionals will be able to evaluate your pain and diagnose you properly.