Gingivitis is a common condition of the gums that is manifested by inflammation and bleeding gums. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor dental hygiene, smoking and diabetes. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis and tooth loss. The purpose of this article is to review the risk factors, diagnostic methods and treatment available for gingivitis.
Often gingivitis precedes periodontitis, a serious condition that untreated leads to tooth loss. Not all gingivitis will result in the onset of periodontitis.
It is important to remember that periodontal disease starts with the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity and can end, if not treated properly, with tooth loss due to the destruction of the tissues surrounding the teeth.
In the early stages of gingivitis, bacteria in the plaque cause the gums to become inflamed, and they bleed easily during brushing.
However, at this stage the bone is not yet affected and tissue damage has not yet occurred. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontal disease
In a person diagnosed with periodontitis, the inner layer of gum and bone will be removed by the teeth and so-called periodontal pockets will form. Specifically, these small spaces between the teeth and gums collect food debris and lead to infections.
Poor dental hygiene is one of the most important risk factors for developing gingivitis. Plaque builds up on teeth and gums, causing inflammation and bleeding gums. Smoking and the use of tobacco products are also important risk factors. Studies have shown that smokers have a higher risk of developing gingivitis and periodontitis than non-smokers. Diabetes is another important risk factor, as diabetics are more prone to infection and inflammation.
What causes gum disease?
Plaque and tartar are the main causes of gum disease. However, other factors can also contribute. These are:
Certain hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, puberty, menopause or those present during monthly menstruation. These make the gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
Diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Diabetes is also a risk factor for developing this disease, because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, so patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing this infection, including periodontal disease and tooth decay.
A number of drugs can affect oral health because they reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums.
Smoking contributes to gingivitis.
Poor oral hygiene, or in other words incorrect brushing and not flossing, makes it easy for gingivitis to develop.
A family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor to the development of gingivitis.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Unfortunately, gingivitis can occur and develop without pain, producing only a few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease are often subtle, certain symptoms may indicate a particular form of the disease. Symptoms of gum disease include:
Bleeding gums during and after brushing
Red, swollen, tender gums
Persistent bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth
Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
How is it diagnosed?
Only your dentist can recognize and diagnose gum disease and its progression. During a dental examination, the dentist checks for bleeding gums, any swelling or the space between the tooth and gum and corroborates clinical and radiological investigations to establish the diagnosis.
Warning! In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as molars.
The diagnosis of gingivitis can be established by examination of the oral cavity and gums by the dentist. Inflammation and bleeding gums are obvious signs of gingivitis. In addition, the dentist may use a gingival probe to assess periodontal status and may recommend dental x-rays to evaluate bone loss associated with gingivitis.
How is gum disease treated?
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a combination of dental hygiene and professional teeth cleaning procedures. Regular brushing with a toothbrush and flossing can help remove bacterial plaque from teeth and gums. Your dentist may also recommend the use of mouthwashes to help reduce gum inflammation and bleeding. For more severe cases of gingivitis, your dentist may perform a professional teeth cleaning, called scaling, to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums. In very severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove infected gum tissue.
The aim of treatment is to prevent gum disease from progressing to periodontal disease.
In addition, the aim is to reattach healthy gums, reduce swelling and the depth of pockets, as well as the risk of infection and disease progression.
Treatment options depend on the stage of the disease and range from non-surgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supporting tissues.
How can it be prevented?
Gingivitis can be prevented, being a reversible disease, when the dentist intervenes and plaque and tartar removal takes place. A number of lifestyle changes can also reduce the risk, severity and development of gum disease. These include:
Quitting smoking. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for developing gingivitis. Statistics show that smokers are more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers, plus smoking can reduce the chances of successful dental treatments.
Stress. These should be eliminated as much as possible. It makes it difficult for the body to defend itself against infection.
Healthy eating. Proper nutrition helps fight infections and supports a well-functioning immune system. Eating foods with antioxidant properties – for example, those containing vitamin E (vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes) – can improve the body’s overall health and therefore also its oral health.
If someone in your family has gingivitis, then you are at greater risk of developing the disease yourself. In this case, talk to your dentist and go for check-ups, treatments and professional brushing more often to manage your oral health situation.
Gingivitis is a common gum disease that can be prevented by regular dental care and avoiding risk factors. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the progression of gingivitis and avoid serious complications such as tooth loss. It is important that people take steps to maintain proper dental hygiene and visit their dentist. for
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