What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums or soft tissue that surround the teeth. It causes the gums to bleed, and if left unattended, gingivitis can affect the bone and supporting structures of the teeth and cause a more serious infection called periodontitis. Gingivitis usually progresses to periodontitis (gum disease). However, with proper dental care, brushing and flossing, not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.
If gingivitis is left untreated and periodontitis sets in, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth forming pockets. The pockets between the teeth and gums collect food particles and bacteria (plaque) and can become infected. The plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Toxins are produced that start to break down the bone and connective tissue around the teeth. When this occurs, teeth can become loose and tooth loss is possible. Gingivitis which progresses becomes periodontitis and periodontitis is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gingivitis?
An exact cause has yet to be pinpointed, but we do know one main cause is plaque. Plaque is made up of different types of bacteria found in the mouth. Bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums and everyone has bacteria in their mouth. Gingivitis begins when plaque accumulates between and around the teeth. Another cause believed to be involved in gingivitis is when a person has an illness that weakens the immune system, which prevents the body to fight off the bacteria in the mouth. It is also believed some medications that suppress the immune system can be a cause of gingivitis. Sometimes changes in hormones leave a person more susceptible to gingivitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?
Osborne Family Dental recommends a visit to the dentist if a patient experiences swelling, redness, pain or bleeding around the gums (especially when brushing or flossing), and breath that is extremely bad. All of these may be an indication of gingivitis.
Am I Susceptible?
If you are diabetic, HIV positive, or suffer from Addison’s disease you may be more susceptible to gingivitis. If a patient is experiencing hormonal changes such as in pregnancy, puberty or menopause, the patient may be susceptible. Lastly, patients who are taking medications for high blood pressure, organ transplants or seizures may also be susceptible if the medication suppresses the immune system.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Treatment depends on how advanced the gingivitis is and the overall health of the patient. Options range from a regular cleaning or prophylaxis of the teeth, nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth or surgery to restore supportive tissues if it has progressed to periodontitis
In mild cases, gingivitis treatment begins with a professional cleaning and instructions from your dental hygienist. Good dental hygiene at home is an effective way to combat gingivitis. Regular brushing after meals and flossing after brushing are key to good dental hygiene.
In more advanced cases, gingivitis treatment may include scaling and root planing. This nonsurgical procedure is a deep-cleaning removal of plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. It is done under a local anesthetic in your dentist office.
If the gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, surgery may be required to graft in new tissue or bone. In some cases, pocket reduction surgery is required to get rid of the pockets that are full of infection.
If a patient is experiencing medical issues that are causing gingivitis, Dr. Osborne and the medical doctor work with the patient.
There’s a Difference Between Treatment and Care
The good news is that regular visits to the dentist to clean away plaque can avoid this problem and are very important in the battle against gingivitis.
At Osborne Family Dental, we believe in caring treatment. Routine dental check-ups, x-rays, and cleanings are recommended. We believe in proactive treatment given with great care.
Contact us today for more information about gingivitis.