24 Jun What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is also referred to as gum disease. It starts with the growth of bacteria in your mouth and culminates in the loss of your teeth if nothing is done to arrest the progression of the disease. While periodontitis is also called gum disease, it shouldn’t be confused with gingivitis as the following explanation provided by the dental care experts at ThoroughDent Smiles shows.
How Gingivitis Differs from Periodontitis
Usually, gingivitis is the precursor of periodontitis. However, not all cases of gingivitis progress and become periodontitis.
At the beginning of gingivitis, bacteria grow in the mouth and cause inflammation in the gums. Your red and swollen gums can then bleed while you brush your teeth or after brushing. At this time, your teeth are still intact since the disease hasn’t affected them as yet.
If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. Dr. Kristina Neda reveals that as gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth creating deep pockets. These pockets harbor even more bacteria and the damage to your oral structures progresses at a higher rate.
At this point, the tissues in the gingival pockets can become infected as the body’s immune system struggles to respond to the bacteria lodged there. As time goes on, the body’s immune system turns against the bone and gum tissues and also starts breaking it down in the same way that the bacteria in the plaque is doing.
That damage marks the time when your teeth start becoming loose in your mouth. This explains why gum disease is the biggest causative factor for tooth loss in adults.
Causes of Gingivitis or Gum Disease
Plaque is the most common cause of gum or periodontal disease. However, many other factors can contribute to creating favorable conditions for gum disease to develop. The following are some of them.
Poor oral hygiene. Plaque forms when one doesn’t pay attention to oral hygiene, such as brushing their teeth and flossing on a daily basis. These poor oral care habits create room for bacteria to colonize the mouth and trigger the development of gingivitis.
Hormonal changes. The hormonal changes which occur during the different stages or events in one’s life, such as monthly menstruation, pregnancy, puberty or menopause make the gums more sensitive. This sensitivity makes it easier for gingivitis to develop, according to Dr. Jordan Smith, a dentist in Georgetown, KY.
Illnesses. Some illnesses, such as diabetes, HIV or cancer can affect your gums. Once the condition of your gums is compromised, gum disease will develop. For example, Dr. Kristina Neda, a Georgetown dentist explains that HIV weakens the body’s immune system and gives oral bacteria a chance to multiply to the extent of causing gingivitis.
Family history. People with family histories of dental disease are also at a heightened risk of developing gum disease. This is because those individuals may have acquired the bacteria responsible for gingivitis early in their lives and this bacteria is a big part of their oral flora. Your local dentists in Georgetown, KY caution people to exercise good oral hygiene early in life so that they minimize the chance of having a sizeable fraction of their normal flora as bacteria that causes gingivitis.
Bad habits. People who smoke or have other bad habits increase their likelihood of developing gingivitis. Dr. Kristina Neda explains that smoking compromises saliva formation, so the mouth cannot clean itself naturally the way it should. Additionally, the chemicals contained in cigarettes interfere with the body’s ability to repair itself. In such a case, gingivitis and other oral health problems can easily develop.
Medications. Dr. Kristina Neda also reveals that some medications can interfere with the production of saliva in the mouth. Other medications can cause gum tissue to grow abnormally. In both of these cases, gingivitis easily develops because the mouth isn’t functioning as it should.
Symptoms and Signs of Gum Disease
Bleeding gums. A person with gingivitis notices that their gums bleed during or after brushing. This happens regardless of the type of toothbrush that they are using or how vigorously they brush. The bleeding occurs because the gums are inflamed (swollen and red).
Gum recession. We asked our friend, Dr. Chris Green, a dentist in Parker, CO, about gum disease. Dr. Green says that another common sign of gum disease that he sees often. Have you noticed lately that your teeth look longer? Are you using toothpicks more often than you used to? All these are signs that gum recession has occurred due to gum disease or other factors.
Deep gingival pockets. As gingivitis progresses, the gaps between your teeth and gums keep widening. Dr. Kristina Neda can describe the extent to which gum disease has progressed by measuring the width of these gingival pockets. People who have reached the level of periodontal disease have gingival pockets which are wider than 5mm.
Bad breath. Persistent bad breath and/or a bad taste in your mouth can alert you to the possibility that you are suffering from gingivitis. The bad breath or bad taste is a result of the activity of oral bacteria or the food particles trapped in the gingival pockets resulting from gum disease.
Shifting or loose teeth. As earlier explained, advanced periodontal disease causes the teeth to become loose since the structures anchoring them have been damaged by oral bacteria. These loose teeth can easily shift within the mouth if you have gaps between your teeth.
Bite issues. Dr. Jordan Smith reveals that periodontal disease can cause the teeth not to fit together. This happens when the teeth become loose and shift as you bite down. People with partial dentures will also notice that they no longer fit when gum disease is left untreated.
Gum disease may or may not cause any symptoms once it develops. The problem is that when not treated properly, irreversible damage can be caused to your teeth and oral organs. It is best to visit ThoroughDent Smiles in Georgetown, KY every six months for a checkup so that anything discovered is treated promptly before additional damage is done.