Most people don’t pay undue attention to their teeth unless something goes wrong. If you brush, floss, and rinse every day and visit the dentist regularly, chances are you can avoid the most serious oral health issues for a very long time.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so diligent with their oral health regimen. Maybe you’re tired after a long day of work and you simply don’t feel like flossing, so you skip it. One night of skipping turns into many as you fall out of habit.
Perhaps you neglect to visit the dentist regularly. Or maybe you eat a lot of sweets and consume insufficient calcium and other nutrients. In truth, even if you do everything right, you still have to deal with factors like genetics, diseases, and even medications that could contribute to the formation of oral health problems.
It’s all too easy to develop gingivitis and other forms of gum disease when you neglect your oral hygiene, but it can develop even if you’re diligent about your oral health. What’s important is that you treat it immediately before larger issues arise. If you know what could happen when you fail to treat gingivitis, chances are you’ll make a greater effort to visit your Birmingham dentist regularly.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a condition that develops when bacteria interacts with starches in your mouth. They form a sticky film on teeth known as plaque. Generally, plaque is easily removed with proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash to remove food and bacteria.
However, plaque that is not attended to in a timely matter can begin to harden and turn into tartar, which must be removed with more intensive cleaning by your dentist. When plaque develops below the gum line, it begins to irritate the gums, causing them to swell. This is the condition known as gingivitis.
Gingivitis can be easily treated by your preferred dentist in Birmingham AL. With a simple, in-office cleaning you can remove the tartar causing the condition. Following up with a proper daily oral hygiene regimen can create healthy teeth and gums and prevent gingivitis in the future.
If gingivitis goes untreated in the short term, nothing serious is liable to happen, so don’t panic. Your dentist should be able to treat the condition and make recommendations for prevention at your next checkup.
However, you are likely to notice ongoing symptoms until you treat gingivitis, including gums that are red, swollen, and tender. The gums may bleed during brushing. Over time, these symptoms will worsen if left untreated and your mild gum disease will develop into more serious conditions.
Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. As tartar builds below the gum line and bacteria causes infection, the gums will swell even more and begin to pull away from the teeth, allowing pockets of infection to grow.
This situation is not only uncomfortable, but as bacteria battles the immune system, other tissues can start to be affected, including the teeth and even the jaw. Even so, periodontitis can be treated and your oral health can recover if you see a dentist and begin a regimen of preventive care to stop the return of gum disease.
Tooth Decay and Tooth Loss
It’s never a good idea to let bacteria gain a foothold in your mouth. When plaque and tartar form, they not only affect the soft tissue of the mouth, but they can also attack the hard, protective enamel surrounding each tooth.
When this happens, bacteria can infiltrate teeth and begin to cause tooth decay, starting with cavities and advancing from there. In addition, periodontitis attacks the tissues surrounding teeth, potentially causing teeth to become loose.
These two conditions can lead to irreversible tooth decay and even tooth loss if left untreated. Even worse, infection could easily spread to the jaw, resulting in the need for surgical correction.
This is the worst case scenario if gingivitis goes untreated for too long. A dental abscess is a painful accumulation of pus inside a tooth or in the gums. It can be treated by antibiotics and in some cases surgery, but the fear is that the abscess will reach the blood stream and spread infection through the body.
When an abscess spreads through the blood stream, serious, life-threatening conditions can develop, potentially leading to sepsis, heart attack, coma, and death. Most cases will never reach this stage because the condition will likely become so painful that you have no choice but to seek treatment. However, serious and even fatal results can occur when gingivitis goes unchecked.