Gingivitis and its effects
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes inflammation of the gums. It occurs when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth, builds up and hardens into tartar, which cannot be removed by brushing alone. This leads to inflammation of the gums and can cause redness, swelling, and bleeding. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe forms of gum disease, which can result in tooth loss and other serious health problems.
Symptoms of Gingivitis:
The symptoms of gingivitis can vary from person to person, but some of the most common signs include:
Swollen, red, or tender gums
Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
Changes in the color of the gums
Causes of Gingivitis:
The primary cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque to build up on teeth and gums. Other factors that can increase the risk of gingivitis include:
Smoking or using tobacco products
Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause
Diabetes or other systemic diseases
Medications that reduce the flow of saliva or cause the gums to swell
Certain viral or fungal infections
Effects of Gingivitis:
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe forms of gum disease, including periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. Some of the potential effects of gingivitis include:
Tooth loss: As gingivitis progresses, the bacteria can spread from the gums to the bones and ligaments that support the teeth. This can lead to the loss of teeth, especially if the condition is left untreated.
Cardiovascular disease: Recent studies have suggested that there may be a link between gum disease and heart disease. The bacteria that cause gingivitis can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, where they can cause inflammation and damage to the blood vessels.
Respiratory infections: The bacteria that cause gingivitis can also travel to the lungs, where they can cause infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Complications during pregnancy: Pregnant women with gingivitis may be at an increased risk of preterm labor and low birth weight babies.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, including gum disease. Gum disease can also make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels, which can worsen diabetes symptoms.
Dementia: Some studies have suggested a possible link between gum disease and cognitive decline or dementia, although more research is needed to confirm this.
Treatment of Gingivitis:
The good news is that gingivitis can be treated and even reversed in its early stages. The first step in treating gingivitis is to improve oral hygiene. This includes:
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
Flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth
Using an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen breath
Quitting smoking or using tobacco products
Seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
In addition to improving oral hygiene, your dentist may recommend other treatments for gingivitis, such as:
Professional cleaning: A dental cleaning can remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums, which can help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.
Scaling and root planing: This is a deep cleaning procedure that removes tartar and plaque from below the gumline and smooths the roots of the teeth to help prevent bacteria from reattaching.
Antibiotics: In some cases, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help treat a bacterial infection