What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis is characterized by gum tissue inflammation and redness and swelling, and bleeding from routine brushing or flossing. Healthy gums are pink and firm and do not bleed during regular brushing or flossing.
What are risk factors for gingivitis?
Proper brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth. Buildup of dental plaque is the main cause of gingivitis, and risk factors for this buildup include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Poor oral hygiene practices
- Hormonal changes in females
- Certain medications that decrease the flow of saliva (such as steroids, some anti-epileptics, cancer drugs, certain calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives)
- Some illnesses, such as AIDS
What are symptoms of gingivitis?
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding and tender gums
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Tooth movement (pathological migration)
What are home remedies to treat gingivitis?
It is important to treat gingivitis and remove plaque buildup so it does not progress to more serious gum disease. Home remedies to treat gingivitis include:
- Brushing teeth with a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Brush twice daily, for two minutes each time and pay attention to the gum line
- Floss regularly
- Replace your toothbrush with a new one every 3 to 4 months
- Use a tongue scraper daily
- Electric toothbrushes are recommended is possible as they are better at plaque removal
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash to prevent plaque build-up
Can gingivitis be cured?
Gingivitis can be cured if the plaque that causes gum irritation and inflammation is eliminated. A professional dental cleaning can remove plaque and tartar buildup, and after that, you can keep your mouth healthy by brushing and flossing regularly.
What is the difference between periodontitis and gingivitis?
Gingivitis affects the gums, but when the inflammation reaches the ligaments and bone surrounding the teeth it becomes periodontitis. Periodontitis is also called "gum disease" and is characterized by loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
What causes gum disease (periodontitis)?
Just like with gingivitis, plaque is the main cause of periodontitis (gum disease), but there are other risk factors that come into play, including:
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Genetics (family history)
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Hormone changes
- Certain illnesses (such as cancer, diabetes, HIV)
- Certain medications
Medical treatments for gum disease include…
Nonsurgical treatments for gum disease include:
- Professional dental cleaning
- Scaling and root planning (a deep-cleaning dental procedure)
- Chlorhexidine, a prescription mouth rinse or gelatin-filled chip
- Use of antibacterial toothpaste that contain fluorides and an antibiotic called triclosan
If medical treatments are not enough or the gum disease has progressed, surgical treatment may be needed.
Periodontal disease is often associated with other conditions.
Periodontal disease is frequent associated with other conditions, such as:
- Diabetes: Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of developing gum disease, and severe gum disease can increase blood sugar, putting patients at risk for diabetic complications
- Heart disease: Gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, and can worsen existing heart conditions.
- Stroke: People who have had acute cerebrovascular ischemia are more likely to have an oral infection
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis decreases bone density and may lead to tooth loss
- Respiratory disease: Bacteria from the mouth in patients with periodontal disease may be aspirated into the lungs and can lead to pneumonia
- Cancer: Studies found that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers
Images provided by:
UptoDate.com. Overview of gingivitis and periodontitis in adults
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Crest.com. Gingivitis Treatment: How to Treat Gingivitis at Home
Colgate.com. Is Gingivitis Curable?
Oral Health America. Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What’s the Difference?
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