Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease (periodontal disease) that causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. It’s important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it promptly. Gingivitis can lead to much more serious gum disease called periodontitis and tooth loss.
The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Good oral health habits, such as brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and getting regular dental checkups, can help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:
- Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.
- Medications can affect oral health because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia and Adalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
- Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
- Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing daily, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- A family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor to the development of gingivitis.
What Are The Types of Gingivitis?
There are two main categories of gingival diseases:
Dental plaque-induced gingival disease: This can be caused by plaque, systemic factors, medications, or malnutrition.
Non-plaque induced gingival lesions: This can be caused by a specific bacterium, virus, or fungus. It might also be caused by genetic factors, systemic conditions (including allergic reactions and certain illnesses), wounds, or reactions to foreign bodies, such as dentures. Sometimes, there is no specific cause.
What Are Signs and symptoms
In mild cases of gingivitis, there may be no discomfort or noticeable symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis might include:
- bright red or purple gums
- tender gums that may be painful to the touch
- bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
- halitosis, or bad breath
- inflammation, or swollen gums
- receding gums
- soft gums
How Does My Dentist Diagnose Gum Disease?
During a dental exam, your dentist typically checks for these things:
- Gum bleeding, swelling, firmness, and pocket depth (the space between the gum and tooth; the larger and deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease)
- Teeth movement and sensitivity and proper teeth alignment
- Your jawbone, to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression. Treatment options depend on the stage of the disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments and your overall health. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues
How to Prevent Gingivitis?
- Good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Better yet, brush after every meal or snack or as your dentist recommends. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.
- Regular dental visits. See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having a dry mouth, taking certain medications, or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often. Annual dental X-rays can help identify diseases that are not seen by a visual dental examination and monitor for changes in your dental health.
- Good health practices. Practices such as healthy eating and managing blood sugar if you have diabetes also are important to maintain gum health.
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