Gingivitis – Causes, symptoms and treatment
We take care of our food, diet and nutrition but sometimes tend to ignore our teeth. This ignorance can cost you. Read more about gingivitis, a gum disease.
What is gingivitis?
“Gingiva” means gums (that includes the structure surrounding the teeth) and “itis” means swelling. Gingivitis means swelling and inflammation of the gum tissues. This is termed as a non-destructive form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a condition affecting the gum tissues, and the periodontal ligament (which is the structure joining the tooth and the bony socket) and can also at times include or effect the alveolar bone (i.e. the bone in the jaws).
Cause of gingivitis
Gingivitis is similar to any swelling or inflammatory reaction in the body, which is initiated by some irritant or trauma. It is a result of long term accumulation of plaque or calculus on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is the yellowish sticky layer deposited on the surface of the tooth, which comprises of mucus, bacteria and debris etc. If the removal of plaque is not done properly, it hardens with time to become tartar on the teeth. These two together (i.e. plaque and tartar) irritate and inflame the gingival with time. Also, a lot of toxins secreted from these bacteria are also responsible for causing and increasing the inflammation of gingival, thus leading to gingivitis.
If not controlled and monitored at the right time, gingivitis can also lead to periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar are also chiefly responsible for the development of dental caries or tooth decay.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis
- The gums appear to be soft, shiny and swollen in gingivitis.
- Bleeding gums or bleeding after brushing is one of the most common signs and complaints of patients with gingivitis.
- In severe cases, the gums might appear as swollen and purplish and at times also tender to touch.
- At times gingivitis can also be prevalent due to any other systemic condition, or even in pregnancy due to changes in the hormonal levels.
Preventive measures and treatment for gingivitis
The cause of gingivitis is the irritation due to deposition of plaque or tartar. The best way to treat or prevent gingivitis is to maintain good oral hygiene and ensure that the tooth surface is free from any kind of deposits. One should ensure brushing routine along with regular flossing habit to keep all forms of dental infections at bay twice a day. At times your dentist may recommend that you should brush or rinse after every meal or snack, in case you are more prone to plaque formation.
Now-a-days different tools (or devices) are available in the market – like the interdental brushes, dental floss, various forms of toothbrushes, toothpicks (or waterpik) that would aid in maintaining the oral hygiene. Many dentists also recommend a dental checkup and a professional cleaning (scaling) of the teeth once in every six months.
The goal of the treatment for gingivitis is to reduce or curtail the inflammation of the gums.
The recommended (or proposed) treatment option is to get a thorough professional cleaning (or scaling) of your teeth done from a dentist or a dental hygienist. Maintenance of good oral hygiene is necessary to prevent the recurrence of the condition.
Use of antibacterial mouthwashes or warm saline gargles will make your gums healthy. Some periodontists (gum surgeons) also recommend massaging of the gums with gum paints or ointments to reduce the inflammation from the gum tissues.
Written by Dr Neha Sarda, Aesthetic Dentist
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