Gingivitis

1 What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common and a mild form of a disease that affects the gums, also referred to as periodontal disease.

It causes  inflammation of the gums characterized by irritation, redness and swelling of the gums. As a result of it being mild, one may not even know that they have the condition.

It is  important, however, to take the disease seriously and manage it promptly. It is also able to lead to a more serious gum disease (periodontitis) and eventually promote loss of teeth.

The most common cause of gingivitis is as poor dental care and hygiene. Good oral health habits such as brushing the teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly/daily, and going for dental checkups will help prevent the development of gingivitis. 

2 Symptoms

 The signs and symptoms of gingivitis may include:

  • Swollen gums,
  • soft and puffy gums,
  • receding gums.

The properties of healthy gums are that they are firm and pale pink. However, if the gums are puffy, red, and bleed easily, it is characteristic of gingivitis.

Gingivitis is however rarely painful and hence needs close monitoring to ensure that you are healthy.

Occasionally, they become tender, and bleed very easily when brushed or floss. It can also be seen as redness or pinkness of the gums when brushing.

Change of the color gums from pink to dusky red with bad breath is an indication that one needs to see a dentist.

Doctors are likely to recommend regular checkups for detection of gingivitis, cavities, and other dental problems. This will help prevent future problems.

However, of you notice signs and symptoms of gingivitis, make an appointment with your doctor. Early management and control increases the chances of managing damage created by gingivitis and prevent the development of periodontitis

3 Causes

The common cause of gingivitis is poor oral health which encourages bacteria to thrive in the mouth.

Plaque is considered as an invisible, sticky film made of bacteria. This is created as a result of the interaction between bacteria and starches and sugars located in your mouth.

This can be managed by brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing them regularly to remove the plague.

It is necessary to be removed daily since it reforms immediately within 24 hours. It can also harden into a tartar (calculus) when left for more than three days under your gum line.

Tartar is also formed from the mineral content collected from your saliva. The tartar hardens the possibility of removing plagues which protects the bacteria.

Tartar cannot be removed by brushing or flossing the teeth.  But it can be managed/ removed by a professional dental cleaning.

The more the plaque and tartar stays on your teeth, the more they infect your gums causing irritation which eventually becomes swollen and bleeding.

This may also lead to dental carries or tooth decay.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Gingivitis is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms and examination of your oral health. The doctor will also check for plaques and tartar in the mouth, redness, puffiness, easy bleeding.

It is advisable that one needs to make a schedule for regular checkups. When one notices the signs and symptoms of gingivitis, it is recommended to seek an appointment with your doctor.

Before the appointment, prepare a list of the possible questions you need to be addressed such as:

  • are there any symptoms for gingivitis?
  • What kinds of tests are required?
  • Is there any medical insurance for my treatment?
  • Are there any alternatives to the treatments?
  • What kind of toothpaste is needed for this treatment?
  • Are there alternatives to the approach suggested for managing gingivitis?
  • What type of dental floss is needed?
  • Are there any medical restrictions?
  • Are there any supporting materials and information required?

You may also need to ask questions when you don’t understand. The doctor may also ask questions about your symptoms, which may include:

  • When did the symptoms begin? How frequent are your symptoms?
  • What medical conditions have you are currently?
  • Do you use dental floss?
  • What medical conditions do you have?
  • What medications do you take?

When not clear on the cause of gingivitis, a medical evaluation may be done to determine the underlying medical health conditions. 

5 Treatment

Effective gingivitis treatment requires that professional care be used for stepped up oral hygiene at home.

Prompt management of gingivitis is effective in the reversing of the symptoms of gingivitis and prevent the progression to more serious gum related diseases and loss of teeth.

Professional gingivitis care may include: An initial evaluation and thorough dental cleaning so as to remove all the traces of plagues and tartar.

You will also be offered with best instructions on home brushing and flossing. Regular professional checkups are also needed.

Crowns can be fixed or filled through restoration procedures which make good hygiene complicated.

Instruments can be used to remove all traces of plagues and tartar through a technique referred to as scaling. However, this technique may be uncomfortable when having sensitive teeth coupled to extensive plaque and tartar.

It may be difficult to remove plaques during homecare as a result of misaligned teeth, poorly fitting crowns, bridges and restorations may cause the irritation of your gums.

If by any chance the dental restorations promote the gingivitis, it will be recommended that this be fixed. Gingivitis clears up after professional cleaning while keeping the oral hygiene in order. The doctor will help you plan for an effective program.

6 Prevention

One needs a good dental hygiene program to help prevent gingivitis.

This may need to be practiced early and used consistently for life.

Complete cleaning with a proper toothbrush and floss only requires about 3 to 5 minutes. Flossing before brushing enables one to clean away the lose food particles and bacteria.

The doctor may also need to be visited regularly for professional cleaning. Usually about twice in a year.

Avoid risk factors that increase the chance of developing gingivitis. Go for a professional dental cleaning frequently. 

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent and reverse gingivitis:

  • They include regular dental cleaning.
  • Using a soft brush and replacing it about three to four months after using it.
  • An electric tooth brush can also be used for removing the plaques and tartar.
  • Ensure that you brush your teeth twice daily and more especially after every meal.
  • Also, floss your teeth once a day.
  • An antiseptic mouthwash can also be used to clean the oral cavity.
  • Interdental cleaner such as dental pick or dental stick can be used to clean the spaces between your teeth.

One will observe the returning of the pink, an indication of a healthy gum and tissues within several days or weeks. Always practice good oral hygiene. 

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with gingivitis.

Gingivitis is common among people and anyone can develop it. This often starts during puberty and extend throughout life.

Factors that increase gingivitis include poor oral health habits.

  • Use of tobacco,
  • diabetes,
  • old age,
  • declined immunity,
  • leukemia,
  • HIV/Aids and other medical conditions.
  • Other viral ad fungal infections,
  • hormonal changes,
  • menstrual cycle,
  • birth control pills,
  • poor nutrition,
  • ill fitted dental restorations.

When gingivitis is unchecked, it can progress to gum diseases which may grow to the underlying tissues and bones (periodontitis) which can promote tooth loss.

This may also affect the overall poor health. It has also been established that periodontics may be associated with heart attack, stroke, lung diseases, premature birth, low baby weight at birth in women.

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