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Dental Problems & Conditions,  Gum Disease

Gingivitis 101: Symptoms of Gingivitis & Treatment

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Let’s go straight to the point, shall we? Have you heard of gingivitis? Probably. But do you know what it actually is? Do you know the symptoms of Gingivitis? What causes it? How to treat Gingivitis? Probably not, so you have come to the right place.

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is actually a mild, but common, form of gum disease that causes inflammation, swelling, redness, and irritation of your gingiva. Your gingiva is that part of your gum that’s located at the base of the teeth.

Even though it’s mild, gingivitis should be taken seriously and should be treated as soon as soon as you notice it. This is because it can lead to losing teeth by developing a more serious disease known as Periodontitis or Periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. But, with proper hygiene like going for regular dental checkups, flossing daily, and brushing at least twice daily can help reverse and prevent this disease.

Types of Gingivitis

So, What Are The Types Of Gingivitis We Have?

Technically, there are two major types of gingivitis:

  • Dental Plaque-Induced Gingivitis

This category of gingivitis disease is usually caused by malnutrition, medications, systemic factors, or plaque.

  • Non-Plaque Induced Gingival Injuries

This category can result due to certain fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Also, it can be caused by reacting to foreign bodies like dentures, systemic conditions like specific illnesses and reaction to allergies, or genetic factors.

What Are The Causes Of Gingivitis?

Dental plaque with inflammation and healthy tooth on a white background

As mentioned earlier, gingivitis is commonly caused when you have poor oral hygiene. This causes biofilm (plaque) to build up on your teeth which causes swelling around the tissues of your gum.

That said, let’s briefly go through how this plaque can cause gingivitis, shall we?

  • Plaque Develops On The Teeth

Plaque is sticky film that you really can’t see. They compose of bacteria that builds up on the teeth when the sugar and starch in your food come in contact with the bacteria that are already in our mouth. You need to remove this plaque at least twice daily because it usually re-forms fast.

  • Plaque Become Calculus (Tartar)

When the plaque stays on the teeth for long, it hardens on the teeth or under the gum line and turns into calculus or tartar. This tartar, in turn, collects more bacteria and makes it a lot more difficult to remove the plaque. Also, it builds a protective shield for the bacteria it collects, leaving an irritation near your gum line. This hard calculus then allows harmful bacteria to grow under it and around it causing further gum disease.

At this point, you would expert dental cleaning to get rid of the tartar

  • Inflammation Of The Gingiva

As the calculus and plaque stay longer on your teeth, your gingiva becomes more irritated, causing it to swell. As time goes on, your gum will become swollen and start bleeding easily.

Also, it may result in the decay of your tooth, which is known as a cavity or dental caries.

Signs And Symptoms Of Gingivitis

gingivitis and calculus and plaque build up before and after

You might not notice any symptoms or discomfort if you have a mild case of gingivitis. This is because if your gums are healthy, they are usually tightly fitted around your teeth, pale pink, and firm. So, you might not easily notice the first signs of gingivitis.

That being said, what are some of the signs and symptoms of gingivitis?

Symptoms of gingivitis

  • Gums bleed when flossing
  • Gums bleed when brushing
  • Gums start receding
  • Swollen or inflamed gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tenderness of gums that can be painful when touched
  • Purple or bright red gums

So, When Should You See The Dentist?

As soon as you notice any of the signs and symptoms of gingivitis, you need to book a check-up with a dentist. The quicker you take care of the symptoms, the higher your chances of undoing whatever damage the disease might have caused. Plus, you also can to prevent it from becoming Periodontitis.

Always visit your dentist every 6 months for a routine cleaning and exam so they can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

What Are Some Gingivitis Risk Factors?

When it comes to gingivitis, anyone can get it. Plus, it is also common. So, what are some factors that can increase your risk of developing gingivitis?

  • Fungal and viral infections
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal variations from using birth control pills, menstrual cycle, or even pregnancy
  • Drugs like some calcium channel blockers and phenytoin
  • Medical conditions that reduce your immunity like cancer, HIV/Aids, or leukemia
  • Crooked or misaligned teeth that are hard to clean
  • Deficiency in vitamin C
  • Dry mouth
  • Chewing or smoking tobacco
  • Poor oral hygiene

How Do You Prevent Gingivitis?

Do you know the saying “prevention is better than cure”? Well, that applies to gingivitis as well. So, how do you prevent this disease?

First, you need to have proper oral hygiene. How? By brushing your teeth twice in a day for at least two minutes, and also floss at least once daily.

Another way to prevent this disease is to visit your dentist every to 6 to 12 months for regular cleaning. I personally suggest every 6 months. Dental issues caught in their early stages are typically easier to fix. Also, you may need dental visits more often than that if you happen to have any risk factor that increases your chances of getting Periodontitis.

Even more, with dental x-rays once every year, you can discover diseases that a dental examination may not see and also monitor your dental health.

Additionally, you need to have good health routines like managing your blood sugar and eating healthy.

Complications From Gingivitis

Leaving gingivitis untreated can lead to a gum disease known as Periodontitis as mentioned earlier. And, if care is not taken, you could eventually lose your teeth.

According to research, chronic gingival inflammation can be linked to some diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, coronary artery diseases, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. Also, it has been thought that the Periodontitis-causing bacteria can get into the bloodstream via your gum tissue and can affect your lungs, heart, and so on.

Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (NUG), or trench mouth is an advanced case of gingivitis where your gums become infected, ulcerated, painful, and starts bleeding. Cases like this are hardly found in developed countries but are quite common in developing countries with poor living conditions and nutrition.

To Wrap It Up

If not treated properly and early enough, gingivitis can become quite harmful. With proper oral hygiene and regular dental care, you should be able to prevent and treat the disease. Always visit your dentist if you have any concerns.

Kelly Hancock, RDH

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