The gums surrounding the teeth in our mouths are called the gingiva. Gingivitis is inflammation of these gums. This is a common condition found more frequently in old age and in times of emergencies, contact this Family dentist in Greenville for urgent dental care.
Causes of Gingivitis
Poor oral hygiene is an underlying risk factor for gingivitis. This condition can be prevented through regular dental examinations to inspect the health of the teeth and gums. Brushing of teeth twice a day along with regular flossing help inadequately cleaning the teeth of plaques and in increasing the strength of the gums.
- Formation of dental plaque: The bacterial film on the teeth can lead to inflammation at the gum line.
- Direct infection of the gums by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
- Vitamin C deficiency: Vitamin C is involved in the formation of connective tissue. Its deficiency can lead to weakness and bleeding of gums.
- Pregnancy: hormonal changes can lead to gingivitis.
- Drugs: Some medicines can lead to an increase in growth of the gums which can allow more bacterial growth and resultant gingivitis. The drugs are most likely to cause swollen gums are phenytoin (anti-seizure), cyclosporine (rejection medications), calcium channel blocker (for HTN).
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Gingivitis can present with the following symptoms:
- Swelling and redness of the gums
- Pain and sensitivity to cold, hot, or spicy food
- Bleeding of the gums to touch or while flossing
Diagnosis of Gingivitis
The diagnosis of gingivitis is apparent on clinical examination.
- Dental Examination: A thorough dental examination is required to ensure the health of the teeth and the bone underlying them.
- Culture: A swab may be taken for culture is a bacterial infection is suspected to be the cause.
- Imaging studies: An X-ray of the jaw may be taken to look at the teeth in their sockets to see if there is any spread of disease and inflammation.
Complications of Gingivitis
These occur due to the local spread of the disease and from spread to the rest of the body.
- Periodontitis: This refers to inflammation of the structures surrounding the teeth such as the tooth socket and the ligaments holding the tooth in place. Local spread of gingivitis deep into the jaw can result in periodontitis.
- Loss of teeth: This occurs after periodontitis with the weakening of teeth.
- Bacterial sepsis: The bacteria in the gums can easily enter the bloodstream and move to different parts of the body leading to sepsis.
- Infective endocarditis: This is a condition where organisms grow and form small lesions on the heart valves. The inflamed gums act as sources of entry for these microbes into the body.
Treatment of Gingivitis
The treatment is aimed at primarily improving oral hygiene and at targeting the specific cause.
- Twice daily brushing of teeth and flossing can help remove plaque and prevent biofilm formation
- Mouthwash: Any mouth wash can be used to rinse the mouth with chlorhexidine found to have been the most effective in clearing the mouth of organisms
- Antibiotics: These may be needed in certain forms of gingivitis with an infection
- Vitamin C: In the event of a deficiency, supplementation of this vitamin through pills or though citrus fruits can reverse it
- Removal of drugs causing swollen gums
Severe gum disease can lead to loss of teeth is left untreated alongside various systemic complications which can be life-threatening. As simple measures like brushing and flossing can help prevent this condition it is imperative to emphasize these beneficial habits from childhood for effective long term care.
- Page RC. Gingivitis. J Clin Periodontol. 1986 May;13(5):345–59.
- Gingivitis and periodontitis: Treatment of periodontitis: Cleaning, scaling, care. PubMed.