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Gingivitis

Bleeding or receding gums can lead to periodontal disease

Gingivitis is defined as an inflammation of the gums around the teeth and is generally used to describe diseases affecting the gums. Gingivitis is caused by the presence of biofilms or plaque that adheres to the surface of teeth.

Causes of Gingivitis

Gums become inflamed when even microscopic plaque and tartar particles gather in the small gaps between the teeth and gums. These forms of bacteria release foreign toxins that agitate the surrounding gums. If not corrected, this can create large pockets between the teeth and gums as well as a loss of the bone around the teeth; these symptoms are associated with periodontal disease. If the periodontitis is left unchecked, the loss of bone can cause teeth to loosen and fall out or require extraction due to infection. Tooth loss may also occur due to receding gums.

Gingivitis Symptoms

There are many different symptoms are experienced by those who have gingivitis, including:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Severe bad breath
  • Tender or painful gums when brushing
  • Itchy gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Purple or bright red colored gum tissue

These symptoms will increase in severity with the advancement of gingivitis. "Trench mouth" is a name given to a very severe form of gingivitis that is caused by two different bacteria; it may also be referred to by your dentists as ANUG – acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. The symptoms are similar to those listed above but occur rapidly and result in gray and misshapen gums. The disease is more common among smokers, and the name trench mouth dates back to the First World War when it was often diagnosed among soldiers stationed in the trenches.

Gingivitis Prevention

The cause of gingivitis is simple; poor hygiene. Preventing gingivitis is as simple as ensuring that the bacteria are regularly removed from the teeth both above and below the gum line. This is achieved by regular cleanings (also called scaling or root planning) performed by a dental hygienist. There is no true cure for gingivitis aside from regimented daily oral hygiene along with regular visits to your dentist. Taking these dental health steps can help ensure that you have a smile that will last a lifetime!

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