Identifying and Treating Gingivitis

Poor oral hygiene can often lead to a number of dental health problems, many of which are often pretty painful.  One of the most common ailments is gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. A good way to avoid this issue, often caused by bacteria that accumulate on the teeth (plaque), is to learn about the disease.  Recently, Medical News Today published an article, “What is Gingivitis? What Causes Gingivitis?” that describes symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this common occurrence.

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease that if left untreated, can lead to periodontitis, a much more serious issue that often causes sufferers to lose their teeth.   The most common cause is the accumulation of plaque on and around teeth, which is a normal event that happens in everyone’s mouth.  It’s when the plaque is not removed adequately that the problems begin.  Abundance of plaque forms tartar at the base of the teeth near the gums and can only be removed professionally.  If left untreated, the plaque and tartar will irritate the gums and lead into the condition known as gingivitis.  Other less common causes include hormonal changes (which can occur during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy), some diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV), some medications, smoking, and family history.  There are several symptoms and signs that may indicate that you may be suffering from gingivitis.  If gums appear bright read or purple and are tender, swollen, soft, or receding, there’s a chance gingivitis may be to blame.  Other signs include halitosis, or bad breath, and bleeding during brushing or flossing.

The good news is that if caught early, gingivitis can be reversed if properly treated.  Upon diagnosis, treatment includes steps to be completed by the dentist in addition to patient actions.  First, plaque and tartar will be removed at the dentist’s office, which can be uncomfortable depending on the amount of buildup that requires removal.  If there are any problem areas, such as poor fitting crowns or bridges, these issues can be addressed next.  At home, it’s crucial that a patient brushes their teeth at least twice a day, flosses at least once a day, and regularly rinses with an antiseptic mouthwash, in order to adequately remove the natural plaque buildup on teeth.  While most cases of gingivitis are treated without complications, if left untreated gum disease can spread to affect teeth and bones, creating much more serious conditions.  Additionally, gum disease has been linked with other serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and even lung disease.  All of this can be avoided through education, practicing good oral hygiene, and regularly visiting the dentist.

Written by Mark Paulsort

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