Gingivitis: A Common Dental Problem That Impairs Your Gum Vitality 

Gingivitis is an early-stage gum disease that affects almost 75% of Americans at some point in life. Fortunately, it can be reversed through proper oral care

Dr. Scott Young is an experienced dentist who treats gingivitis and prevents disease progression through proper oral health counseling and procedures if required. 

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease that is characterized by swollen, red, and bleeding gums. It develops when plaque, tartar, and bacteria accumulate on your tooth surface and the surrounding gums.

If left untreated it can lead to periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis together are the leading causes of tooth loss according to the American Dental Association. 

What are the causes and risk factors for gingivitis?

Gingivitis develops as a result of an inflammatory response to plaque and tartar on your teeth. Plaque is a naturally occurring sticky film on your teeth surfaces. Poor oral hygiene can fail to eliminate plaque which favors bacterial infiltration, and inflammation. 

Several other risk factors can contribute to gingivitis, such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene 
  • Poor nutrition
  • Genetic predisposition 
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Chronic diseases like diabetes 
  • Ill-fitting dentures
  • Malaligned teeth 
  • Oral contraceptives

What are the clinical features associated with gingivitis?

Initially, gingivitis may not exhibit any symptoms, but as the disease worsens you may develop:

  • Red and sore gums
  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily 
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Receding gums (gum recession)
  • Loose teeth
  • Malocclusion due to mobile teeth 

How is gingivitis diagnosed?

Consult a dentist if you notice any symptoms of gingivitis. Your dentist can diagnose gum disease through a physical examination. If gum disease is suspected, your dentist may recommend X-rays to rule out any jawbone involvement. 

How is gingivitis treated?

Treatment of gingivitis aims to control the infection and restore gum and teeth vitality. The treatments include:

  • Lifestyle changes
    • Regular brushing and flossing 
    • Quitting smoking and tobacco use
    • Eating a healthy diet
  • Medications 
    • Antibacterial mouthwashes can help destroy disease-causing bacteria. 
    • Oral antibiotics are used to treat persistent areas of gum inflammation. 
  • Dental cleaning
    • Involves professional teeth cleaning to eliminate plaque and tartar from above the gum line (supragingival)
    • Ideal for early-stage gingivitis. 
  • Scaling and root planing
    • Ideal for advanced-stage gingivitis. 
    • Scaling involves plaque and tartar elimination from below the gum line (subgingival).
    • Root planing involves smoothening the root surfaces to prevent plaque accumulation. 

Be aware of early signs of gingivitis, to know when to seek dental care. Early detection and treatment can significantly prevent further deterioration and rejuvenate your teeth and gums. 

Dr. David K Simson
The author, Dr. David K Simson is a trained radiation oncologist specializing in advanced radiation techniques such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) / Rapid Arc, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). He is also experienced in interstitial, intracavitary, and intraluminal brachytherapy.