Gingivitis involves the inflammation of the gums, which are also known as gingiva. It’s a common complaint which is caused by a film of plaque, or bacteria, which accumulates on the teeth.
While considered non-destructive, left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, or full blown gum disease which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
In mild cases of gingivitis, there may be no discomfort or noticeable symptoms. However, for in more advanced cases there are specific signs and symptoms to look out for. These include:
There are two main categories of gingival diseases:
Gingivitis can be successfully reversed with an early diagnosis and with prompt and professional treatment, which is why we always urge patients to seek at the earliest opportunity.
The first step is likely to involve the removal of plaque and tartar build up, known as scaling, followed by tuition on effective brushing and flossing techniques. Certain dental issues, such as crooked teeth, badly fitted crowns or bridges, may make it harder to properly remove plaque and tartar and follow-up appointments may be recommended, with more frequent cleanings if necessary.
Patients can also do a great deal to treat and manage Gingivitis at home. Here are some simple guidelines to follow to ensure high standards of oral hygiene:
Gingivitis usually precedes periodontitis, which is more generally referred to as gum disease. However, this is not always the case. For patients experiencing symptoms of gingivitis, if their teeth remain firmly planted in their sockets, it is highly likely that no irreversible bone or tissue damage has occurred.
However, left untreated it can quickly advance to periodontitis. A clear indication of this involves the inner layer of the gum and bone pulling away from the teeth to form pockets which collect debris and become infected.
As the plaque spreads below the gum line the body’s immune system is triggered and begins to fight the bacteria. Bacteria within the plaque release toxins and poison which in combination with the
Enzymes released by the body to fight the infection start to gradually break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.
This battle on the gum line causes pockets to further deepen exposing and destroying more gum tissue and bone. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss, as teeth are no longer anchored in place and become loose as the disease develops.
While genetics, poor oral hygiene and lifestyle choices such as smoking can all cause gum disease, there are several other factors which contribute to the onset of periodontitis. These include:
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