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Gingivitis and gum disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About gingivitis and gum disease

Gingivitis and gum disease is a persistent and recurrent condition characterised by the infection and inflammation of the supporting tissues of the teeth including gums. Various factors like tooth decay or bacterial infection may be involved in leading to this condition.

Gingivitis and gum disease: Incidence, age and sex

Gingivitis is a commonly encountered dental condition in the general population. It may affect an individual in any age group. However, it is more common during pubertal years and younger adults, especially those who have a poor dental hygiene.

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis and gum disease: Diagnosis

The predominant symptoms of gingivitis and gum disease are swelling and redness of the gum tissue. Affected individuals may experience pain and discomfort on pressing upon the gums. The affected gums may be shiny in appearance and show red spots. In fact, bleeding from gums may be occasionally complained of. Small ulcers of the mouth and bad odour are common occurrences in individuals with gum infections.

This condition can be effectively diagnosed on dental examination by a specialist. Tests or investigations are generally not needed.

Causes and prevention of gingivitis and gum disease

Some of the common causes of gingivitis include tooth decay, deficiency of vitamin C, misalignment of teeth or plaque deposition. Plaque is a covering film over the teeth which constitute food particles and debris. This is a potential source of bacterial infections of gum tissue. Moreover, inadequate brushing and flossing may increase the likelihood of development of gingivitis. Hormonal changes which happen during pregnancy and menopause also predispose individuals to gum disease. Prolonged use of medications like phenytoin, nifedepine, oral contraceptives may cause gingival hyperplasia. Dental implants like braces and dentures which are not properly fitted can irritate the gingival tissue and later progress to gingival disease.

Preventive measures like maintaining good oral hygiene and getting teeth cleaned professionally, annually, may help in avoiding plaque deposition.

Gingivitis and gum disease: Complications

Gingivitis if left untreated, may spread to the surrounding tissues leading to infection of the soft tissues and bones. This may result in osteomyelitis of the jaw, which is a serious infection of the jaw bone.

Gingivitis and gum disease: Treatment

It is essential to evaluate the condition and detect the underlying cause of gingivitis. The first step is to manage and eliminate the source of gingivitis. The affected individuals may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling of gums. Warm saline gargles or anti-bacterial mouthwashes, are also helpful in many individuals. Moreover, it is essential to get the teeth cleaned professionally, to remove plaque deposition. Adequate dental hygiene may help in averting further recurrences of gingivitis and gum disease.