What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a gum disease caused by bacterial infection in the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. Gingivitis is a mild gum disease also called as periodontal disease that affects gingiva, or the tissue that surrounds the gums. It spreads below the gum line and damages the tissues that support the teeth.
Gums affected by gingivitis become red, swollen and bleed when brushed. When gingivitis becomes severe in progress, the gums pull away from the teeth leaving space for the bacteria to grow and dwell in the gap damaging the teeth. As a result, the teeth shrink, recede, become loose and fall out or need to be removed.

The inflammation of the gums around the teeth due to improper cleaning causes gingivitis. Gingivitis is present in all age groups primarily because of local irritants. People experience gingivitis in varying degrees.

Gingivitis develops during puberty or early adulthood due to hormonal changes and its progress depends on how healthy the tooth is. Some of the common symptoms of gingivitis are swollen mouth and gums, red color of the gums, bleeding gums and gums that are tender when touched but otherwise painless.

A person’s mouth regularly produces a sticky substance called plaque which contains bacteria that helps in making toxins in the gums. These toxins irritate the gums and cause the tissues to break helping the bacteria to go deeper into the gum lines and grow.

If this plaque hardens then it becomes a substance called tartar which has to be removed by a dentist. Tartar causes bad breath, pus coming from gums, loose teeth and gums bleeding very often.

The likelihood of having gingivitis is increased when healthy oral conditions are not maintained such as frequent smoking and drinking of alcohol and incorrect teeth cleaning. Gum disease in the family, low nutrients in one’s diet and high stress are also causes of gingivitis.

Gingivitis can be treated with daily brushing of the teeth twice daily and regular dental checkups. If gingivitis is severe then root canal and scaling can be done to treat it. The dentist will remove the tartar from the gum lines and put prescribe some antibiotic medications to get rid of any infections.

Gingivitis needs surgery only under very severe conditions when the tartar cannot be removed with normal dental instruments in the clinic. Gingivitis can risk a pregnant woman with a premature baby, low birth-weight baby or a baby with gum disease at birth. Good oral hygiene is the best defense against gingivitis.

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