What is gingivitis or gum disease?
Gingivitis or gum disease means inflammation of the gums or gingiva. Gum inflammation happens because of the irritation of the gums. Dental plaque with the bacteria is the main source of this irritation. Plaque is an invisible biofilm that sticks to your tooth surface. if you don’t clean the plaque regularly, then it hardens to form tartar. And this tartar causes further irritation to your gums.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Yet many people with gum disease are unaware they have a problem because it’s often ‘silent’ with no pain or symptoms. If you notice theses signs, you should see your dentist
- Bleeding from your gums when you brush your teeth or spontaneous bleeding from your gums sometimes.
- Gums may also become swollen, red and uncomfortable.
- You may have bad breath.
- There may be an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Itching in the gums.
Who can get a gum diseases?
Although anyone can get a gum disease, it’s more likely in people who either don’t clean their teeth regularly or those who find it difficult to clean their teeth properly.
If you have these, then cleaning of teeth can become difficult
- Irregularities in tooth shape or alignment ( crowded teeth )
- Spacing between teeth can all make it difficult for you to reach out to an area with a toothbrush.
- Other risk factors include smoking, diabetes and occasionally pregnancy.
What is the treatment for a gum disease?
Gum disease will always require treatment by a dentist or dental hygienist. There are various types of treatment available depending on the severity of gum disease.
Since plaque and tartar is the main irritant of the gums, your dentist or hygienist will thoroughly clean the teeth using a special electric scaler and polish your teeth with a electric brush and a gritty paste. With this most of the early symptoms of gingivitis comes under control. Your dentist will review the condition of your gums after 1 week. If he notices some more inflammation, then you will have to undergo some deep cleaning of the gums. ( root planing and curettage )
Your dentist will recommend some home maintenance care which includes:
- antiseptic mouthwash, such as chlorhexidine, to help reduce the formation of plaque in the future.
- Guide you on proper brushing and flossing methods.
- Advise interdental cleaning brushes as per your requirement.
- Warm saline rinsing and gum massage.
- Oral irrigation if needed for a specific case.
What will happen if I ignore a gum disease?
In mild cases of gingivitis, you may not even know you have it, because the symptoms are mild. However, the condition should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. If you ignore gingivitis, then it will progress into a more severe form of gum disease called ‘Periodontitis’. This more advanced gum disease can lead to loosening of the teeth or even abscesses in the gum.
What is periodontitis or advanced gum disease or pyorrhoea?
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below your gum line. Then the gums separate from your teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, your teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
There are many forms of periodontitis. The most common ones include the following.
- Aggressive periodontitis This type of gum disease occurs in otherwise healthy people. The condition presents rapid spread of the gum infection and bone destruction.
- Chronic periodontitis This is the most common type of gum infection that is seen in adults.The infection progresses slowly, but periods of rapid progression can occur. Gums separate away from the teeth and bone destruction occurs.
- Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases The form of gum infection often begins at a young age. Systemic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are associated with this form of periodontitis.
- Necrotizing periodontal disease In this form of the disease, degeneration of the gums and bone is seen with associated necrosis. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.
What is the treatment for periodontitis?
Your dentist will evaluate the stage of the gum infection and plan accordingly. He will start your treatment with
- Scaling or teeth cleaning
- Deep cleaning , root planing and curettage
- Surgery for the gums. This can also be done using LASERS.
- Bone grafts if you have bone loss
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Luckily, periodontal disease is preventable. Adding these habits to your daily routine can help.
- Brush your teeth.
Brush your teeth twice a day. Also brushing after meals helps remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. And don’t forget to scrape your tongue. Your tongue harbours the maximum number of bacteria.
Flossing at least once a day removes food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line. This is the area that your toothbrush can’t quite reach.
- Swish with mouthwash.
Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that you missed in brushing and flossing.
- Know your risk.
Age, smoking, diet and genetics can all increase your risk for gum disease. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.
- See a periodontist.
Get an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) from a dental professional. A CPE looks at your teeth, plaque level, gums, bite, bone structure and other risk factors for advanced gum disease. Identifying symptoms of gum disease early is key to protecting your teeth and gums.
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