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The Causes of Gingivitis and How to Prevent Them

Did you know that good oral hygiene goes beyond brushing and flossing? In fact, good dental care has been linked to a lower risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke. The bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream and contribute to these conditions. Neglecting your oral hygiene can also negatively impact your overall well-being, including bad breath, tooth loss, and decreased self-esteem. 

One of the many diseases caused by poor oral hygiene is Gingivitis. It is a disease that causes inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe problems, such as periodontitis, an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth. If you already have gingivitis, your dentist can recommend a treatment plan to help control the symptoms and prevent gum disease from progressing.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the gums. It is usually caused by a build-up of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Plaque can harden into tartar, which is even more difficult to remove. Most adults will experience gingivitis at some point in their lives because it is a prevalent condition. 

Gingivitis is a common gum disease that often goes undetected because it typically only causes minor symptoms. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe forms of gum disease, such as periodontitis. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible in its early stages and can be treated with good oral hygiene. It’s important to address gingivitis as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening and potentially leading to more serious health issues.

What are the Different Types of Gingivitis?

Different types of gingivitis can be identified based on the etiology:

Plaque Induced Gingivitis

This is the most common cause of Gingivitis. Plaque is a thin layer that develops on the surface of teeth due to inadequate dental care. It can harden and develop into calculus. If it is not routinely removed, inflammation might happen.

Nutritional Gingivitis

This may occur due to a deficiency of vitamin C. This can lead to inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Poor nutrition can also lead to other oral health problems, such as tooth decay or periodontal disease. Therefore, ensuring that you get enough nutrients in your diet to maintain healthy gums is crucial.

Hormonal Gingivitis

Hormonal gingivitis is a condition that can occur when the levels of certain hormones fluctuate. The most common type of hormonal gingivitis happens during pregnancy when the increase in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause tender and swollen gums. Hormonal gingivitis can also occur during puberty, menopause, and periods of stress.

Drug-Induced Gingivitis

Drug-induced gingivitis is a side effect that can occur with certain drugs, such as phenytoin and calcium channel blockers. The exact mechanisms by which these drugs cause gingivitis are not fully understood, but it is thought that they may interfere with the body’s natural ability to fight off bacterial infections.

These types of gingivitis can progress to periodontitis if a person does not treat it adequately. Periodontitis is a more severe condition and can lead to further complications, such as loss of teeth.

What are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

signs of gingivitis

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that is often not noticed because it rarely hurts. This is why it’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms of gingivitis and to have your dentist and hygienist clean and check your teeth and gums regularly. With regular dental checkups, gingivitis can be found early when it is still treatable. Be sure to visit the dentist when you have pain or other symptoms. Instead, be proactive and keep regular dental appointments to keep your oral health in good shape.

Here are some gingivitis symptoms to watch out for:

  • Red, puffy gums.
  • Bleeding gums, particularly after brushing or flossing.
  • Constantly sore gum.
  • Tooth sensitivity or discomfort. Teeth become more exposed and sensitive to hot and cold meals and beverages.
  • Continually bad breath. Millions of microorganisms found in plaque produce rotten waste products.
  • Loose teeth or changes in how your teeth fit when you bite down. This could be periodontitis, an advanced gum condition.

How is Gingivitis Treated?

To treat gingivitis, you must maintain good oral hygiene. Additionally, if you smoke, you should reduce your intake, and if you have diabetes, you should manage it. Even though giving up smoking can be challenging, a doctor can assist you in creating a cessation plan that will work for you.

Other treatments include:

Teeth Cleaning

Numerous methods can be utilized to clean your teeth thoroughly without surgery. To avoid causing gum inflammation, they all eliminate dental plaque and tartar:

Scaling

Dental scaling is the process of removing tartar, plaque, and other debris from teeth. It is usually done by a dentist or dental hygienist using special instruments. Scaling can be done on both the front and back of teeth.

Root planing

Root planing aims to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar from the teeth, which can cause the gums to become inflamed and sore. The procedure involves scaling the teeth with a special tool, which helps to break down the build-up of plaque and tartar. This smooths rough spots and removes plaque and tartar from the root surface.

Lasers

Lasers can help to kill the bacteria that cause gingivitis and promote healing. In addition, lasers can also help to remove plaque and tartar from teeth, helping to prevent further damage to the gum line. This procedure may eliminate tartar with less discomfort and bleeding than scaling and root planing.

Medications

Several medications can be used to treat gum disease:

Antiseptic mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwash can be used to disinfect your mouth. It can help to treat gingivitis by killing the bacteria that cause the condition. Chlorhexidine is a common ingredient in mouthwash, and it is effective at reducing plaque and preventing gingivitis.

Timed-Release Antiseptic Chips

Chlorhexidine is a powerful antiseptic that can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including gingivitis. However, chlorhexidine can also cause irritation and dryness, which is why many people prefer to use it in timed-release form. Timed-release antiseptic chips containing chlorhexidine are designed to slowly release the active ingredient over a period of time, allowing the user to experience the benefits without discomfort.

Antibiotic microspheres

Microspheres are tiny beads that are coated with an antibiotic. They slowly release the antibiotic over time when applied to the gums, providing extended protection against bacteria. It can be inserted into pockets after scaling and planning.

Oral antibiotics

Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause gum disease and can effectively reduce inflammation and prevent the infection’s progression.

Doxycycline

Doxycycline Hyclate is an antibiotic medication used to treat bacterial infections. It is also used to prevent malaria and treat gingivitis.

Surgery

You may require surgery if your gingivitis is severe, especially if it has led to any bone or gum tissue loss. A periodontist can perform several different kinds of gum surgery, including:

Flap Surgery

The gums are pulled back during flap surgery, and tartar and plaque are removed from deeper places. The gums are then positioned around the tooth and secured with sutures.

Bone and Tissue Grafts

Grafting may be necessary when your teeth and jaw are too damaged to repair. For example, gum graft surgery takes tissue from your mouth’s roof to conceal the exposed tooth root. This lessens further bone and gum deterioration. Similar to a flap procedure, there is also a bone graft operation, wherein they insert a bone graft to help your body regenerate any missing jaw bone.

Dental Crown Lengthening

There may be more gum tissue in some gingivitis patients. A periodontist can remodel your gum and bone tissue so that more teeth are visible. Additionally, it could be required prior to some dental restoration or cosmetic operations.

How to Prevent Gingivitis?

signs of gingivitis

Proper Oral Care

To do this, you must brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily—in the morning and before bed—and floss at least once. Better yet, brush as directed by your dentist or after each meal or snack. You can remove the bacteria and loosen food particles by flossing before brushing.

Regular Dental Appointments

Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for cleanings on a regular basis, typically every six to twelve months. You might require professional cleaning more frequently if you smoke, take certain medications, have a dry mouth, or have other risk factors for periodontitis. In addition, annual dental X-rays can track changes in your dental health and discover illnesses that are not visible during a visual dental examination.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital for overall physical and mental well-being. It is also crucial for oral health, as poor lifestyle choices can lead to problems such as gingivitis. Gum health can also be maintained by engaging in behaviours like quitting smoking, a balanced diet and blood sugar management if you have diabetes.

The Takeaway

Oral health is often overlooked but essential for overall health and well-being. The mouth is the gateway to the body and can provide important clues about a person’s general health. Poor oral health has been linked to various serious diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and one of the most common oral health problems is gingivitis. Therefore, brushing and flossing regularly and seeing a dentist for regular checkups are essential to maintain oral health and prevent periodontal diseases. Here at Westgate Dental Centre, we value your smile and, most importantly, your health. If you require mouth care services, we have a lot to offer. Contact us today!

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