Gingivitis simply refers to the inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. This ailment affects a large number of the population, and it is the most common form of periodontal disease that afflicts the oral tissues within the oral cavity. The lack of prompt treatment of the condition leads to chronic gingivitis. This can further erode the gun tissue, and later worsen to cause periodontists.
The inflammation of the gum tissue is often classified based on its severity from mild, moderate, to a more deadly necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. As much as inflammation is a major contributor to gingivitis and accounts for the majority of the symptoms of the disease, inflammation in itself is necessary as bacteria fighting cells are recruited into the infected site within the gums to help fend off the bacteria. So in essence, the bacteria in the mouth cause inflammation. While ideally bacteria acts as natural flora within our bodies to help guard our systems from more harmful bacteria, it can become harmful if allowed to breed and overgrow as it is usually the case in the mouth.
The oral cavity is full of bacteria, which has a tendency to breed because of the ideal warm and moist environment, plus the consistent supply of food. If it wasn’t for our immune system trying to fend off these bacteria, they would rapidly grow and eventually overpower our body’s natural defence system. An infection of the gum tissues and bone adjacent to the teeth (gingivitis) occurs when the body’s immune system is overwhelmed by the massive overgrowth of bacteria in these areas.
Causes and Risk Factors of Gingivitis
The exact cause of gingivitis has not been established but a few theories exist. These include:
- For you to get gingivitis, you must have plaque in between your teeth. Plaque refers to the accumulation of bacteria that hardens on the surface of the tooth. However plaque is fairly common and just about everyone has plaque. This leads to the reasoning that plaque on its own doesn’t cause gingivitis; rather it’s a complex of systems and things that work together to cause gingivitis. Plaque is just one of the contributory factors.
- In certain situations, having particular illnesses especially those that weakened the body’s immune system such as diabetes, or HIV and AIDS can lead to gingivitis. This is because once the body’s defence system is weakened; there are no cells that fight back against the bacteria in the oral cavity. Individuals who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or abuse other drugs also weaken their immune system in a similar fashion predisposing them to gingivitis.
- In other cases, particular hormonal changes such as those experienced during pregnancy, puberty period, or after steroid treatments, leave the gum tissues vulnerable to infection.
- Dental factors such as altered anatomy of the teeth, crowded teeth, or poor fitting orthodontics, can increase your susceptibility to gingivitis.
Gingivitis Symptoms and Signs
Initially it’s usually hard to tell if you have gum disease as the symptoms are not always obvious. It is after the disease has progressed for some time that you start to notice certain symptoms.
In mild cases of gingivitis you might notice:
- Gums that are red, swollen and a bit tender.
- Gums that tend to bleed easily while flossing or brushing teeth.
As the infection continues to progress into periodontitis, the symptoms become easily noticeable including:
- Gums starting to pull away or shrink away from the teeth.
- Halitosis or bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away despite brushing or flossing teeth.
- Pus emanating from the gums.
- Loose teeth or a change in how your teeth fit in together when you chew food.
Gingivitis Treatment and Prevention
Treating gingivitis is as simple as removing any source of infection from the oral cavity. Here are a few tips that can help you do that:
- Brush your teeth regularly using fluoride toothpaste, which prevents build up of plaque. Flossing also helps remove any plaque in between the teeth or gums.
- Regular dental checkups also help since the dentist is able to remove plaque on teeth and gums that have hardened and hard to remove with regular toothbrush.
- Correction of ill-fitting orthodontics.
- In case of server gingivitis, it’s important to visit a dentist to receive some antibiotics while help the bodies defence system fight off the bacteria and plaque.