Gingivitis is a common oral disease that means inflammation of the gums. The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Gingivitis is just one form of periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases are those which affect the periodontium. Gingivitis is a non-destructive type of periodontal disease and is often confused with periodontitis. In actuality however, gingivitis is different from periodontitis in that gingivitis will progress and become periodontitis if left untreated. Periodontitis is much more severe than gingivitis, and when the periodontal disease progresses to this stage it can lead to the loss of gum tissue and teeth.
There are two different kinds of gingivitis. The first kind is induced by the accumulation of plaque and is only caused by the accumulation of plaque, malnutrition, or as a reaction to medication. The second kind of gingivitis is known as non-plaque induced gingival lesions. These lesions are caused by specific bacteria, viruses, or fungi, or the lesions can be caused by genetic factors, traumatic lesions, or as a reaction to foreign bodies.
If you suspect you may have gingivitis you will most likely have red, puffy, and painful gums. Your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth. Other signs and symptoms may include either red or purple gums, tender gums, halitosis or bad breath, receding gum line, softened gums, and bloody and painful gums. Though these are the most common symptoms of gingivitis some people have reported no symptoms of gingivitis at all when cases are mild.
Despite the fact that the patient may not have any of these symptoms, gingivitis can be very serious if left to progress and should be treated right away. Often, a change in oral hygiene habits can be enough to alter the course of the gingival disease. Many patients may find that they are able to keep gingivitis under control by beginning to brush and floss more frequently and for longer periods of time. Also changes in the method by which the patient brushes and flosses could make a difference, as well as beginning the use of mouthwash.
However, typically only mild cases of gingivitis can fix the problem with self-care. Usually patients do not discover the problem until their symptoms are already too severe to correct the mistake on their own. But luckily dentists like Dr. James A. Wells are well trained in diagnosing and curing issues with gingivitis.
First Dr. Wells will check the oral cavity for visual signs of gingivitis. Usually this is enough to diagnose a patient, as gingival lesions and inflamed gums will be easy to recognize. Dr. Wells may also check the mouth for periodontitis, especially if the symptoms seem severe enough. Dr. Wells may check for periodontitis by X-ray or further oral examination.
If you are successfully diagnosed with gingivitis treatment can begin. It is essential that gingivitis be caught early. If treatment begins quickly the symptoms of gingivitis may be entirely reversed. Treatment for the gingivitis will involve in-office treatment by Dr. Wells along with follow-up care in the office and at home.
Gingivitis can be successfully treated by removing all plaque and tartar from the oral cavity. This is the most essential step to the reversal of gingivitis, though some patients find the procedure uncomfortable especially if their gums are especially sensitive. The only way to fully remove gingivitis is through this cleaning procedure, called a scaling. When a scaling is performed properly there is no plaque or tartar left to inflame the gums, and the condition subsides. It is important though that the patient continue to perform follow-up care at home. Proper brushing and flossing is key, and can prevent the return of gingivitis. If you allow plaque and tartar to re-build, you will have essentially re-opened the window for gum inflammation.