Gingivitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Know the basics
1. What is gingivitis?
Gum disease (periodontal disease) occurs when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and the gums (also called the gingiva). Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that can be reversed. It causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed.
This health condition is very common. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
The common symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down, or in the fit of partial dentures.
Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as the molars. Only a dentist or a periodontist can recognize and determine the progression of gum disease.
There may be some symptoms not listed above.
Diagnosis & Treatments
1. How is gingivitis diagnosed?
During a dental exam, your dentist typically checks for these things:
- Gum bleeding, swelling, firmness, and pocket depth (the space between the gum and tooth; the larger and deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease)
- Teeth movement and sensitivity and proper teeth alignment
- Your jawbone, to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth
2. How is gingivitis treated?
The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression. Treatment options depend on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.
- Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:
- Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.
- Medications can affect oral health, because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia and Adalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
- Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
- Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.
2. Risk factors
There are many risk factors for gingivitis, such as:
- Poor oral health habits
- Tobacco use
- Older age
- Decreased immunity as a result of leukemia, HIV/AIDS or other conditions
- Certain medications
- Certain viral and fungal infections
- Dry mouth
- Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy, your menstrual cycle or use of oral contraceptives
- Poor nutrition
- Substance abuse
- Ill-fitting dental restorations
Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.
GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Gingivitis. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gingivitis. Accessed June 23, 2017.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease). http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease#1. Accessed June 23, 2017.
Gingivitis. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/gingivitis. Accessed June 23, 2017.