What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a very common but mild form of gum disease that causes swelling of the gums.

Mild gum disease occurs due to the presence of plaque in the mouth especially near the margin between the gum and the tooth. If plaque is not removed effectively by brushing or cleaning your teeth and gums at least once every 24 hours, the bacteria it produces release toxins that cause the gums to become inflamed. The gums become swollen and tender and will bleed if brushed.

Because gingivitis is mostly a mild condition, it can often go undetected. In its early stages, it is a completely reversible condition that can be treated simply by cleaning the gums and teeth properly. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more harmful gum disease.

How can you tell if you have it?

Common signs of gingivitis are red, swollen or bleeding gums that are sore to touch. If you have gingivitis, you may experience little or no pain so watching for the early warning signs is essential. For example, if your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, you should never ignore it.

Can I do anything myself to make gingivitis better?

Yes, you can brush your teeth and gums for at least three minutes daily using a soft bristle brush and a recommended brushing technique.

Use dental floss for cleaning in between your teeth. You can supplement your brushing and flossing if necessary with a recommended mouth rinse. You will notice an improvement after three days using this regime and after one week the symptoms of gingivitis including redness, swelling and bleeding should disappear completely.

When should I go to a dentist for help?

If the symptoms do not subside, you may have some periodontal (gum) disease and you will need to make an appointment with your dentist who will be able to investigate your condition and make a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease occurs when inflammation in the gingiva spreads further into the tissues that support the tooth in the bone. The tissues attaching the tooth to the bone and the bone itself are gradually eroded. This can take place at one site in the mouth (localised) or it can affect some or all of the teeth in the mouth (generalised).

How can you treat periodontal (gum) disease?

If you have developed periodontal (gum) disease the first step is to reduce the level of inflammation by having your teeth and gums cleaned professionally by a dentist often with  the help of a hygienist. 

To read more information on Gingivitis and Gum Disease, visit our Oral Health magazine – Oral-Health-Zone_1