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An In-Depth Look at Gingivitis

Good health is the most important thing that anyone can have in this world. Without it, nothing else would matter. Dental health is linked to overall health, and when one declines, the other worsens as well. If you want to stay healthy through your later years, make taking care of your teeth and gums a priority in your life. Otherwise, you could develop a number of problems that you probably don’t ever want to experience–gingivitis being one of them.

> What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that causes swelling of the gums. It is categorized as a periodontal disease, or one that affects the tissues surrounding the teeth such as the gums and underlying bones. Although gingivitis occurs in a large proportion of the population, it is usually quite mild and goes away quickly. However, gingivitis can worsen to become periodontitis, a more severe form that attacks the teeth and gums more aggressively. Gingivitis can be divided into two major classes: those caused by plaque and those not caused by plaque.

> What causes gingivitis?

The biggest cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque on the bases of the teeth. Plaque is comprised of bacteria, food particles, mucus and more, and it builds up as a solid layer on the teeth when they are not taken care of properly. Over time, plaque can harden and become tartar, making it much harder to remove. The presence of plaque and tartar irritates the gums and causes infection. Even though there are plenty of harmless bacteria that live in the mouth, they can cause problems when they enter tissues that they don’t normally inhabit.

There are other causes for gingivitis as well. Pregnancy, diabetes, misaligned teeth, use of medications and other drugs, smoking tobacco, genetics, old age, diet lacking in nutrition, and some other diseases can induce or increase the chances for gingivitis.

Picture Credit- elpasoimplantsurgery.com

> What symptoms are associated with gingivitis?

People who have gingivitis can experience a wide variety of different things. The following signs and symptoms are most commonly associated with the disease:

– Reddened, darkened, and swollen gums with little to no pain
– Bleeding gums, especially during brushing
– Sores in the mouth
– Glossy appearance to gums
– Bad breath that persists
– Bad taste in the mouth that persists
– Receding gums that look like they are being eaten away
– Loosening or shifting of teeth

> What treatments are available for those suffering from gingivitis?

Gingivitis can be treated with a number of surgical and non-surgical methods. Plaque removal will usually eliminate most or all of the inflammation. Over-the-counter mouthwashes or prescribed NSAID rinses are used to kill the invading bacteria. In severe cases where the gums have been permanently damaged, debridement and surgery may be necessary.

> How can gingivitis be prevented?

Good dental hygiene is the best way to keep the gums from being in invaded by harmful bacteria. You should brush your teeth at least twice daily, use dental floss regularly, and also rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash as often as you can. Going to the dentist for a regular check-up and cleaning should also be done once every few months.

Aside from keeping the oral cavity clean, dropping harmful habits can significantly reduce the risk of getting gingivitis. Smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco, and taking recreational drugs should be avoided completely. Eating a diet high in nutrition and keeping stress levels low also contribute to lower risk of gingivitis.

Sources:
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/gingivitis/article_em.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002051/
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gingivitis/DS00363
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingivitis

Byline
Aaron Rutherford often writes on health, medical science, wellness, and other related topics. Oral hygiene is an extremely important area of concern; those who are looking to increase their oral hygiene should consider Keller dentist as a means toward that end.