An inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth which affects a significant portion of the population and a common periodontal disease.
This inflammation of the gingiva is classified according to severity. It can range from mild to severe gingivitis and more uncommon but serious necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
- Inflammation is a complex system by which bacteria-fighting cells of the body are recruited to an area of bacterial infection. Inflammation plays a major role in gingivitis. It is this inflammation of the gums that accounts for most of the symptoms of gingivitis.
- Bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums. Although bacteria are normally found in our bodies and provide protective effects most of the time, bacteria can be harmful. The mouth is an ideal place for bacteria to live. The warm, moist environment and constant food supply are everything bacteria need to thrive. If not for a healthy immune system, bacteria in the mouth would rapidly reproduce out of control, overwhelming the body’s defense system.
- An infection begins when the body’s immune system is overwhelmed. The gum disease of gingivitis is an infection that occurs when bacteria invade soft tissues and bone adjacent to teeth. The severity of this infection varies from mild to severe and can be an indication of a life-threatening systemic disease.
What Are Gingivitis Symptoms and Signs?
- The presence of dental plaque, a sticky substance on the teeth, will inevitably cause gingivitis.
- Swelling, redness, pain, and bleeding of the gums are signs of gingivitis. Swelling of the gums is referred to as gingival hyperplasia.
- Receding gums are a sign of gingivitis that may be advancing into periodontal disease
- Loose teeth or tooth loss in the presence of gum inflammation is a sign of gingivitis and periodontal disease.
- Halitosis (bad breath ) , in which the breath begins to take on a foul odor, may be present in more severe forms of gingivitis.
How Do You Treat Gingivitis?
For simple gingivitis, work with a dentist. A concerted effort involving good home denta hygiene, including regular and correct brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits should be all that is required to treat and prevent gingivitis. Gingivitis can usually be managed at home with good dental hygiene.
If gingivitis continues despite the effort to prevent it, contact a doctor to investigate the possibility of an underlying illness. If there are other conditions that seem to be coinciding with the signs and symptoms of gingivitis, seek medical attention. For example, chronic gingivitis and periodontitis are felt by medical scientists to be risk factors for the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
One complication of gingivitis may be the presence of ulcers on the gums — if rampant, this could be a sign of acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis and will require medical diagnosis and treatment.