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Do your gums look slightly red or puffy? Do you have discomfort when brushing your teeth or flossing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be in the early stages of periodontal disease. Commonly called gingivitis, this infection in the gums may begin being mild but can become more serious if left untreated. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental hygiene.

Symptoms may include:
-Swollen or puffy gums that are tender and may bleed easily when flossing or brushing
-Bad breath
-Receding or tender gums

Proper brushing and flossing habits remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque is an invisible layer of bacteria that sticks on your teeth. It grows when starches and sugars interact with the bacteria found naturally in your mouth. Plaque needs to be removed regularly since it reforms quickly, usually within 24 hours, and if not removed, it hardens into tartar and may require a professional dental cleaning to remove.

Some factors that may increase your risk for developing gingivitis are:
-Poor oral cleaning habits
-Dry mouth
-Inadequate nutrition
-Cigarette, tobacco or other substance abuse
-Diabetes, having a lower immunity or hormonal changes
-Certain viral or fungal infections
-Ill-fitting dental restorations
-Certain medications
-Older age

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

Prompt treatment can usually resolve the symptoms of gingivitis and halt its progression. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Warren Cheung, or for any questions or concerns, please call us at 916-683-1994. Our dentist in Elk Grove, California, will be happy to aid you in getting back to a healthier you.