Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments
Gingivitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth (plaque) in your mouth. Left untreated, the plaque destroys the tissue that surrounds your teeth and causes permanent damage to your teeth and jaw.
Gum disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- 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.
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
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.
Gingivitis is treated with professional cleanings at least twice a year and daily brushing and flossing. Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached; flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. Antibacterial mouthwash will also reduce bacteria.
Other health and lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk, severity, and speed of gum disease development include:
- Stop smoking. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gum disease than nonsmokers, and smoking lowers the chances of success of some treatments.
- Rede stress . Stress may make it difficult for your body’s immune system to fight off infection.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection.
- Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth. These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed. Your dentist can shave down those teeth that grind excessively.
If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist or periodontist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings, and treatments to better manage the condition.
Oral hygiene is extremely important. Brush and floss your teeth regularly and stop smoking.
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