What is gingivitis or gum disease?
Gingivitis or gum disease means inflammation of the gums, or gingiva. It commonly occurs when a film of plaque or bacteria, accumulates on the teeth.
Gingivitis is a non-destructive type gum infection, but untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more severe condition which can cause the gums to recede, destruction of bone and eventually lead to loss of teeth.
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.
Many people with gum disease are unaware they have a problem because it’s often ‘silent’ with no pain or symptoms.
- Otherwise, the first sign is usually bleeding from your gums when you brush your teeth.
- Gums may also become swollen, red and uncomfortable.
- You may have bad breath.
- There may be an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
More advanced gum disease can lead to loosening of the teeth or even abscesses in the gum.
Although anyone can get gum disease, it’s more likely in people who don’t clean their teeth regularly or those who find it difficult to clean their teeth properly.
Braces, dentures and irregularities in tooth shape or spacing can all make it difficult to reach an area with a toothbrush.
Other risk factors include smoking, diabetes and occasionally pregnancy.
Gum disease always requires treatment by a dentist or dental hygienist. There are various types of treatment available depending on the severity of gum disease.
Simple gingivitis usually requires your dentist or hygienist to thoroughly clean the teeth using a special electric scaler, electric toothbrush and gritty toothpaste.
Your dentist may also recommend using:
- antiseptic mouthwash, such as chlorhexidine, to help reduce the formation of plaque in the future
In mild cases of gingivitis, patients may not even know they have it, because symptoms are mild. However, the condition should be taken seriously and addressed immediately.