Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, Complications, Prevention and Home Remedies

Gingivitis is a non-destructive disease that causes inflammation of the gums. The gums are the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. Gingivitis is very common and varies widely in severity. It is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when teeth are brushed.

Gingivitis is not the same thing as periodontitis, although sometimes a person may be affected by both. Although gingivitis in some cases never progress to periodontitis which can cause tooth loss, periodontitis is always preceded by gingivitis.

Causes

Gingivitis is mainly caused by poor oral hygiene which make bacteria in plaque and calculus remain on the teeth and form inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues.

Other factors may cause gingivitis include:

  • aging
  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • stress
  • poor nutrition
  • dry mouth
  • alcohol
  • osteoporosis
  • genetic factors
  • hormonal changes in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
  • antiseizure medications
  • infrequent or no dental care
  • crooked teeth which are difficult to clean
  • conditions that decrease immunity such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS or cancer treatments
  • medical conditions such as certain viral and fungal infections

Symptoms

Healthy gums usually are firm, pale pink and fitted tightly around the teeth.

The symptoms of gingivitis usually are signs of inflammation:

  • swollen or puffy gums
  • dusky red or dark red gums
  • gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
  • bad breath (halitosis)
  • receding gums
  • gums that are tender or painful to the touch
  • white spots or plaques on the gums
  • pus between gums or teeth

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the gingivitis need be done by a dentist. The following aspects may be helpful in the diagnosis of gingivitis:

  • Review of patients’ dental and medical history
  • Examinations of teeth, gums, mouth and tongue for signs of plaque and inflammation.
  • Measuring the gums: usually once per year.
  • Taking X-rays
  • Examining sensitive teeth

Treatments

The focus of treatment is to remove plaque. Following treatment methods may be helpful:

  • Professional dental cleaning.
    The initial professional cleaning will include removing all traces of plaque, tartar and bacterial.
  • Dental restoration, if needed.
    Misaligned teeth or poorly fitting crowns, bridges or other dental restorations may irritate your gums and make it harder to remove plaque during daily oral care.
  • Keep a healthy habit on teeth.
    Gingivitis usually clears up after a thorough professional cleaning and what you need do is keeping good oral hygiene at home.
  • Laser therapy
    It is another treatment to help increase gum health by eliminating the harmful bacteria, remove unhealthy tissue and help stimulate healing.
  • Control the root causes of gingivitis
    In some cases, gingivitis is caused by smoking or uncontrolled diabetes. In these cases, patients need control the root causes to address or eliminate gingivitis.

Complications

If patients don’t treat gingivitis in time, it can spread to underlying tissue and bone which called periodontitis, a much more serious condition which can cause tooth loss.

Chronic gingiva inflammation has been thought to be associated with some systemic diseases such as respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to some studies, the bacteria can enter patients’ bloodstream through gum tissue, which possibly affecting heart, lungs and other parts of body.

Gingivitis may progress to trench mouth, also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG), is a severe kind of gingivitis that causes painful, infected, bleeding gums and ulcerations. It is rare in today developed countries but is common in developing countries which have poor nutrition and poor living conditions.

Prevention

Keep good oral hygiene.
Brush teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed. You can also brush after every meal or snack.

At the same time, hydrogen peroxide, saline, alcohol or chlorhexidine mouthwashes may also be helpful. The use of electric toothbrushes might reduce the risk of gingivitis.

In a 1997 review of effectiveness data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found clear evidence showing that toothpaste containing triclosan was effective in preventing gingivitis

Have regular dental visits.
Go to see your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every 6 to 12 months. If you have risk factors or appear some symptoms, you may need go to see your dentist more frequently than other people. Because it is possible to have gingivitis without apparently signs or symptoms.

Your dentist is the primary-care provider of your mouth. He or she can provide the facts and information necessary in diagnosing the disease and taking steps in curing or reversing oral diseases.

Annual dental X-rays can help identify diseases that cannot seen by a visual dental examination and monitor for changes in your dental health.

Keep a healthy diet
Many diseases or bad habits can cause gingivitis, such as diabetes, drinking or eat to many dissert. Thus, keeping a healthy diet is also important to maintain gum health.

Home Remedies

There are some tips that are helpful to treat gingivitis or keep gum health in daily life:

  • Drinking green tea. Green tea has antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can help kill bacteria. It can be used as a mouthwash but remember it cannot be swallowed.
  • Using warm saltwater to rinse teeth can reduces inflammation and kills bacteria, but daily use will damage the teeth.
  • Baking soda and water can be used to brush the teeth to help neutralize the acids which can cause gingivitis.
  • Use mouthwashes with essential oils. According to limited evidence, these kinds of mouthwashes contain ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mouthwash containing an antibiotic can be used to control the bacteria that can cause gingivitis. According to some researches, either amoxicillin, cephalexin, or minocycline in 16 ounces of a non-alcoholic fluoride mouthwash is an effective mixture.

Please consult your doctors for your symptoms and your specific treatments.

Keywords: gingivitis; gums; gum disease.