Gingivitis is a periodontal disease derived from the Latin word “gingivae,” which means “the gums.” As a widespread ailment, gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness, and inflammation of your gingiva. Gingiva is the part of your gum around the base of your teeth.
Gingivitis is a severe disease, and it needs to be treated promptly. If left untreated, the disease can lead to much more complex gum disease, which can be medically named periodontitis.
The most prevalent cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene and unhealthy oral care. Good oral care, such as brushing teeth twice a day, using dental flosses and, having an appointment with the dentists to check up the condition of the teeth, can prevent and reverse gingivitis.
To put it merely, gingivitis occurs because of the films of plaque or bacteria that accumulated on the teeth.
Dental plaque is a biofilm; that is, it is a collective form of microorganism that can grow on many different surfaces. That means that dental plaques, which can accumulate naturally on the teeth, are usually formed by colonizing bacteria that have the inclination to stick to the smooth surface of the tooth.
Even though these bacteria can protect the mouth from microorganisms that can be harmful to the teeth, dental plaque can also lead to tooth decay and periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis and chronic periodontitis.
When accumulated plaque is not removed adequately, it can lead to calculus, or tartar, at the base of the teeth. Calculus, which has a yellow color, can only be treated professionally.
Hormonal changes, which can be experienced during puberty, menopause, or even pregnancy, are another cause of gingivitis. According to medical studies from all around the world, diseases like HIV or cancer are linked to gum inflammation like gingivitis.
People who smoke regularly or use tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes have a higher inclination to have gingivitis on their teeth. Besides, smoking can reduce the saliva flood, which in turn can lead to poor oral hygiene that affects the creation of dental diseases.
Healthy oral hygiene can also be affected by the medication, even by the prescribed ones. Therefore, an anticonvulsant and some anti-angina medications can be the cause of abnormal growth of gum tissue.
It should also be remembered that age and family history play a significant role in the formation of gingivitis. That is, people who are old, or people whose parents have had gingivitis, have a higher tendency to develop the same disease.
There may be no discomfort or visible symptoms for gingivitis in some patients. However, medically, the most common symptoms of gingivitis are;
- Bright red or purple gums
- Tender gums that may be painful to the touch
- Bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
- Halitosis, or bad breath
- Inflammation, or swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Soft gums
There are many ways to diagnose gingivitis. First of all, your dentist or medical team will review your dental and medical history from the first consultation. They may also review the conditions that may contribute to your symptoms.
Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth for signs of dental plaque and possible inflammation. By inserting a dental probe next to your tooth beneath your gum line, usually at several locations throughout your mouth, he or she may even measure the pocket depth of the groove between your gums and your teeth. Typically, the pocket depth is between 1 and 3 millimeters in a healthy mouth. Gum illness may be indicated by pockets deeper than 4 millimeters.
Another technique used to diagnose gingivitis in patients requires dental X-rays. With the help of dental X-rays, your dentist can see deeper pockets, which can be the reason for gingivitis.
Typically, prompt treatment reverses the symptoms of gingivitis and prevents its progression to more severe gum disease and tooth loss. When you also adopt a daily routine of good oral care and stop the use of tobacco, you have the best opportunity for successful treatment.
Professional gingivitis care includes:
Your initial professional cleaning will involve removing all traces of plaque, tartar, and bacterial products. This is a procedure known as root planing and scaling. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth and under your gums. Root planning removes inflammatory bacterial products, smooths the root surfaces, discourages further tartar and bacterial accumulation, and enables proper healing. Instruments, a laser, or an ultrasonic device may be used to perform the procedure.
During daily oral care, misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, bridges, or other dental restorations could irritate your gums and make it more difficult to remove plaque. Your dentist may recommend fixing these problems if problems with your teeth or dental restoration contribute to your gingivitis.
After a thorough professional cleaning, gingivitis typically clears up as long as you continue to have good oral hygiene at home. Your dentist will help you plan an efficient program at home and schedule regular professional check-ups and cleaning.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to a gum disease that spreads to the underlying tissues and bones. It is a much more severe condition that can lead to dental loss.
Chronic gingival inflammation has been associated with some systemic diseases such as respiratory diseases, diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies suggest that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis may enter your blood system through the gum tissue, possibly affecting your heart, lungs, and other parts of your body. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to confirm the link.
Trench mouth, also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG), is a severe form of gingivitis that tends to cause painful, infected, bleeding gums, and ulcers. Trench mouth is rare in developed nations today. However, it is common in developing countries that have poor nutrition and poor living conditions.