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Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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.

How to Reverse Receding Gums

How to Reverse Receding Gums

Receding gums is a common dental problem, especially in patients over the age of 40. Receding gums is a slow process in which the gum tissue moves away from teeth. More of the tooth is exposed. It usually goes unnoticed because it occurs so gradually. The first sign may be tooth sensitivity, or you may realize that your tooth looks longer than normal.

Pockets develop near the gum line between the teeth and gums. Bacteria begin to build up in these pockets, and left untreated, can damage the bone and the supportive tissue that hold the teeth in place. This can lead to tooth loss.

What Causes Receding Gums?

There are several factors that cause the gums to recede. Some factors are our own fault, such as body piercings of the lip or tongue. Other causes are beyond our control, such as genetics.

Gums recede when the gums are infected and the tissue and bone are weakened. The most common cause of receding gums is gum disease.

Other causes include brushing teeth aggressively, hormone changes, tobacco usage, grinding teeth and a misaligned bite.

What Are the Symptoms of Receding Gums?

The first symptom of receding gums is generally tooth sensitivity. This is due to the fact that the receding gum is exposing a portion of the root. Sometimes a notch can be noticed near the gum line.

Can I Really Reverse Receding Gums?

Yes, surgical procedures are available to reverse recession. This procedure can include grafting gum tissue or bone in the affected areas. There are also changes you can make at home to keep the problem from reoccurring:

  • If tobacco products are causing gums to recede, stop using tobacco and find a healthy substitute.
  • A healthy diet is important to healthy gums. Use a good daily vitamin supplement and make certain you are obtaining the daily minerals required.
  • Brush after each meal, but don’t attack your teeth and gums.
  • Use a soft toothbrush. Your dentist will recommend a toothbrush that is not too large for your mouth, as well as a brush with soft bristles. A brush with medium or hard bristles will only cause further trauma to the gums which can lead to further recession.
  • Floss regularly.
  • See your dentist for regular visits. Cleanings are very important for removing the plaque that can cause gingivitis.

Gum recession is not something you should ignore. If you think your gums are receding, make an appointment with your dentist. There are treatments that can repair the gums and prevent further damage.

The Difference Between Treatment and Care

At Osborne Family Dental, we believe in caring treatment. Routine dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Routine x-rays are necessary to reveal potential cavities, infections, and unhealthy teeth. We believe in proactive treatment given with great care.

Contact us today to schedule a convenient appointment to check your receding gums.