Gingivitis, which is also known as gum disease, is caused by bacteria in the mouth and it can ultimately cause someone to lose their teeth if it is not treated properly. It causes inflammation of the gums and plaque to build up on the teeth. If you have gingivitis then your gums will bleed when you brush your teeth, the gums will be tender and red, teeth may be loose, there is a bad breath odor in the mouth, and the gums may recede away from the jaw.

If not treated, gingivitis an cause the gums to get even worse and the gums may even come away from the teeth and get infected. Ultimately it can get serious enough to turn into a major infection that destroys the bones in the mouth and jaw.

It is one of the leading ways that adults lose their teeth, which is sad because it is treatable. Bacteria from the gingivitis can also cause other health problems. If it gets into the blood, it can cause heart disease or respiratory disease. It can even cause premature labor in pregnant women.

What Causes Gingivitis?

The main cause of gingivitis is not taking proper care of teeth through daily brushing and flossing of the teeth. However, some other things can contribute to its cause, including hormone changes (i.e. pregnancy, menopause or puberty), some types of cancer, medications that cause a shortage of saliva (i.e. Dilantin, Procardia or Adalat), smoking, or a genetic predisposition in a family for dental disease.

A dentist can diagnose gingivitis and can let you know how bad of a case that you have. The dentist checks to see if there are symptoms like those listed previously and can advise you on getting treatment for gingivitis so that you won’t lose your teeth or suffer from painful infections in the mouth.

Treatment of Gingivitis

When a patient with gingivitis goes for treatment, the objective is to get the gums to be healthy again. There is a need to reduce the swelling and inflammation, and stop the progression of the gum disease. How it is treated depends on how bad it is. There are several therapies that may be tried to get rid of the gingivitis.

These treatments are meant to stop the growth of the infection and kill the invading bacteria. Some of these treatments are as followed:

Cleaning by a Dentist

This involves the dentist removing existing plaque and tartar on the teeth. If the gingivitis isn’t too bad, this may be enough to help the gums to heal. However, the dentist may have to do what is called a deep cleaning or scaling of the teeth if it has progressed to a bad state.

This is very involved and the patient may have to be given anesthesia because it can be very painful. This scaling process removes the bacteria below the gumline and scales the rough areas of plaque and tartar off the teeth. Plaque is a gummy substance that has bacteria, food particles, mucus and it turns into a hard substance caused calculus and tartar. Only a dentist can remove this from your teeth.

Surgical Procedures to Treat Gingivitis

If the problem of Gingivitis is bad enough, then it is possible the patient will need surgery. One type of surgery is called flag surgery. This is when the surgeon must cut a flap in the gums to get to the tartar buildup. It may also require that some of the bones be smoothed down so that the bacteria have less places to grow. The gums are then repositioned so that the bacteria don’t have openings to grow in because there is no longer a pocket of an opening near the teeth.

Some patients may even need a bone graft so that new bone can grow to help their mouth become healthy once again. This helps the teeth be stable once again. This can be done through bone from the patient, a donor, or by using synthetic bone. Other types of grafts such as a soft tissue graft may also have to be used on gingivitis cases that are bad. In this case the new tissue will be sewn into the affected areas and the tissue usually comes from the top of the person’s mouth.

Other Gingivitis Treatments and Prevention

Gingivitis can be treated successfully, especially when followed up by proper brushing and flossing by the patient. This is vital in preventing the gingivitis from getting worse or returning. It’s vital to remove all food particles from the teeth so plaque won’t grow, because this is what causes the bacteria and gingivitis to occur. Antibacterial mouth rinses are often prescribed for helping to treat gingivitis.

It also helps it the patient doesn’t smoke, as smoking can make you at more of a risk for gum diseases to occur. Plus, eating a healthy diet can also help your gums and teeth to be stronger and less susceptible to gum disease. It is also vital to go to the dentist at least once or twice a year for a checkup to see how your mouth and teeth are doing in order to prevent gingivitis in the early stages when it is easy to treat. Special kind of toothbrushes, tooth picks, and water picks can help to prevent gingivitis, as well as proper brushing and flossing every day.

The bottom line is that gingivitis may start off as a simple and easy to treat problem, but if it is not caught and treated in time, it can progress to a serious issue that can cause major illness and loss of teeth. You can prevent gingivitis by proper brushing and flossing of the teeth every day and by seeing your dentist once or twice a year for a professional exam and cleaning session.

So, if you want to prevent the painful and disfiguring problem of gingivitis, be sure to follow these healthy habits and your teeth will last you all of your life.