What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest stage of gum disease, effecting an estimated half of adults aged 30 and over. Symptoms of the disease include red, bleeding, and sore gums usually evidenced whilst cleaning the teeth. A person with gingivitis may also experience bad breath even after brushing.

Gingivitis begins with bacterial growth around the teeth. This bacterium then irritates the gum line, causing inflammation. This happens as pockets beneath the gums surface are formed. These pockets then act as plaque traps, allowing bacteria to sit and grow. When this bacterial plaque is left within the pockets to advance, it eventually leads to destruction of the periodontal ligament and bone surrounding the tooth.  This is advanced gum disease known as periodontitis. Destruction of the tooth’s surrounding tissues can lead to mobility and tooth loss if left untreated.

Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) has all the same effects as gingivitis, with the addition of painful ulcers and necrosis to the dental papillae. A person may also feel feverish as ANUG occurs. This form of gingivitis can be evidenced by a rapid onset and more aggressive symptoms than milder gingivitis.

What causes this?

Ineffective removal of plaque is the primary cause for gingivitis. Whilst many people brush regularly, only 31% of the UK population clean between the teeth (floss) daily. This step is equally as important! Toothbrushing alone does not reach between the teeth, so interdental aids are essential for cleansing the entire tooth surface of harmful bacteria. This step should be repeated at least once a day.

Other causative factors of gingivitis are:

  • Hormonal changes. Changes caused by pregnancy, puberty and menopause for example can all lead to sensitive gums. Whilst these factors will subside naturally, if the gums are not treated appropriately at the time of these changes, the state of the gingivae will continuously worsen.
  • Illnesses such as HIV, cancers and diabetes are also contributors of gingivitis. As the body’s immune system is weakened, this makes fighting off any gingival infections more difficult. Some medications are also known to increase a person’s chances of developing gingivitis.

It is important to be honest with your practitioner on medical history forms, so that appropriate advice and treatment can be given.

  • Smoking – another factor that contributes to a weaker immune system. Additionally, when the gums are affected, smoking means they have a much harder time healing due the lack of oxygen present within the blood.


How is gingivitis treated?

The best treatment for gingivitis is prevention! Brushing twice daily with an electric toothbrush and cleaning between the teeth with tepee’s or floss is the best way to stop gum disease from forming.  Unfortunately, many people with gingivitis avoid regular brushing due to bleeding gums. However, they should carry on as normal. The gums bleed as you disrupt the plaque layer along the gingival margins. Over time, as less plaque is being left to accumulate and cause inflammation, the bleeding will subside. This subsidization of bleeding is a sign that your gum health is improving!

Other steps you can take are:

  • Attending regular dental visits. Check-ups are essential for ensuring excellent oral hygiene is maintained. The team at Kingswood Parks Clinics can then appropriately assess your individual needs and recommend how frequently to visit the hygienist.

Hygienists specialise in professionally cleaning the teeth and use several tools to help debride stubborn areas of calculus. Calculus is hardened deposits of plaque that build up over time and cannot be removed by regular toothbrushing. If left, these deposits grow larger and contribute to the development of gum disease.

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Oral hygiene advice and demonstrations can also be delivered by the hygienist to help perfect your home routine.

  • Cutting down on bad habits! Whether this is smoking or a poor diet, cutting down can significantly improve both your oral and general health.
  • Regularly switching your toothbrush head. It is recommended that you swap your toothbrush head every 3 months minimum to prevent stagnating bacteria from being reintroduced to the oral cavity.

To discuss any concerns you have regarding gingivitis or any other oral health issues, please contact Kingswood Parks Clinics on 01482 440084.

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