Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth. It happens in a large percentage of the population and if untreated, it could lead to tooth lose.
WHAT IS GINGIVITIS
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth, and it is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque. Healthy gums are normally firmly attached to the teeth and the bone underneath.
Its colour is pale pink in Caucasian people and brown, grey or mottled in people with dark complexion. Once gingivitis is present:
- The gums become inflamed, swollen and reddish in colour.
- They might become tender and they will bleed spontaneously or when brushing and eating.
- Most of the time there is no pain and may go unnoticed until it becomes severe.
- If untreated it might progress to periodontitis which is a more serious condition which can lead to tooth loss.
Gingivitis is caused by plaque which is a sticky film of bacteria that grows and adhere to the teeth surfaces, especially in grooves and crevices or around rough unpolished broken fillings or hard to reach areas. These bacteria produce substances that irritate the gum, when plaque is not removed and is left in place for a long time it might harden becoming a deposit we call calculus, known commonly as tartar. This calculus will protect and harbour the plaque causing more gum irritation and more surface for bacteria to grow.
Some pathological and physiological conditions such as diabetes or pregnancy can exacerbate gum disease. Oral contraceptive and systemic steroids can cause an increased risk of gingivitis.
Gingivitis and gum disease are very common, 50% of the population suffer some form of gum disease.
HOW GINGIVITIS IS TREATED
Once the treatment is commenced gingivitis will disappear after a few days, treatment is basically based on a thorough cleaning and good oral hygiene. If oral hygiene is poor, gingivitis will relapse and if it gets worse could become periodontitis which can cause a great deal of bone loss around the teeth and ultimately tooth lose.
Your dentist can provide you with a thorough cleaning removing all the plaque above and below your gum level. He or she can also teach you an effective brushing and flossing techniques and how to control medical conditions that can worsen the course of gingivitis. In general, the prognosis of gingivitis is very good, once you start the proper treatment gingivitis and its symptoms will disappear in a very short time, may be a week or two.
If gingivitis becomes periodontitis a different treatment approach is necessary.
So if your gums become red and bleed easily while brushing, consult your dentist before it gets worse.
TIPS ON HOW TO PREVENT GINGIVITIS
- Brush your teeth twice or three times a day, preferably after each meal.
- Use a soft tooth brush and make sure the bristles reach all the tooth surfaces,
- Use dental floss in between your teeth and,
- Use interproximal tooth brushes if the spaces between your teeth are large enough.
- Visit a dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning to prevent plaque from becoming calculus or to remove any calculus that might have formed.