What Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is simply inflammation of the gum tissue in the mouth. It is a reversible, non-destructive form of periodontal disease. While there are many causes of gingivitis, the
number one cause is poor dental hygiene.
Gingivitis can develop as
-a side effect to medication
-surges in hormones
-poor oral hygiene.
When dental hygiene is not sufficient, bacteria in dental plaque release acids that stimulate the inflammatory response by the body. This in turn cause the gums to appear puffy, red, and bleed easily upon brushing. It takes some work to restore the gums back to a healthy state. Frequent professional cleaning along with regular tooth brushing and flossing can help to remove plaque and keep it from building up on the teeth and gums.
Signs Of Gingivitis
-swollen, shiny, and tender gums
-blood on toothbrush while brushing
– pink toothpaste when spitting out
-pus around teeth
-visible tartar deposits
-bad taste in mouth
-gums bleed easily
Other Causes Of Gingivitis
–Medications. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications come with the side effect causing dry mouth or xerostomia, and sometimes gum overgrowth. Saliva is important to help keep your teeth clean by controlling the growth of bacteria as well as maintaining a neutral environment to prevent tooth decay. That means that the less saliva you have, the greater your risk for gingivitis (and tooth decay!). Many common medications including antidepressants, blood pressure meds, asthma inhalers, and cold medications can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. Seizure medications, and some blood pressure medications can cause the gum tissue to grow. This extra tissue, makes it more difficult to keep clean. It is important you always read the side effects for any medications you are taking to ensure you take the proper steps like drinking more water and brushing more often following meals.
-Infection/ Disease: Various types of viral infections or fungal infections can cause periodontal disease. Oral Thrush is an example. Thrush occurs when a type of fungus that occurs normally in the mouth gets out of control and forms lesions that can infect the tongue and gums. Also, an infection caused by the herpes virus can cause
periodontal disease. It is important to get these infections under control as soon as possible as they are quite treatable in most cases. There are also other diseases that can effect the oral tissue, such as oral cancer, and diabetes.
-Nutrition: If you follow a fad diet or a diet that is severely lacking in calcium and vitamins B and C, you may be at increased risk for periodontal disease.
–Mouth Breathing: leaving the mouth open to breathe while awake or sleeping, dries the mouth substantially. Oral dryness allows gingivitis to occur more readily.making healing more difficult
–Tobacco use: Smoking directly effects the gums by decreasing blood circulation and thereby increasing inflammation. Smokeless tobacco cause irritation in direct response to the product eroding the tissue.
–Hormone surges: Hormonal imbalance during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can cause gingivitis. The drastic hormone changes allow gum tissues to become inflamed quite readily.
Possible Complications From Gingivitis
In most cases, if gingivitis is properly treated and the patient follows good dental hygiene there will be no complications. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and develop into a more advanced version of periodontal disease called periodontitis. This form of periodontal disease is quite destructive and will cause loss of bone and eventually loss of teeth.
Possible complications from gingivitis can include:
-Abscess in the gum tissues.
-Abscess in the jaw bones.
-Infection in the jaw bone or gum tissues.
-increased susceptibility to heart disease.
-Loss of esthetic gum contours. The points of gum tissue between the teeth disappear, leaving behind a “black triangle”. Red, jelly-roll margins at the gum line of the tooth. Pink stippling disappears.
-Trench mouth, or ANUG. Ulcerations of the gums caused by bacterial infection.
Gingivitis can cause damage in other areas of the body if allowed to remain untreated. The bacteria from the gums can enter the bloodstream and cause infections elsewhere. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction. It may also cause the delivery of premature infants as well as low birth weight infants to gingivitis-infected mothers. Those with diabetes may have problems controlling blood sugar levels if they also suffer from gingivitis.
Prevention of Gingivitis
Gingivitis may be prevented or cured by following some simple preventative measures:
-Use a soft bristled toothbrush, which is less likely to damage teeth or gums. Replace toothbrush every three months or sooner if needed.
-Use a fluoride toothpaste.
– Do not snack in the middle of the night. Chew gum after daytime snacks.
-Floss at least once a day.
-Rinse with an effective mouthwash, such as listerine.
-Visit the dentist at least once every six months for cleaning and examination to keep gingivitis away.
-Avoid sugary foods, tobacco and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Gingivitis is very treatable. The first step, is understanding what is making it occur. Following a regular dental hygiene regimen will keep gingivitis at bay and not allow it to progress to periodontal disease. A few minutes a day is all it takes to maintain a healthy teeth and gums. Remember to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings to avoid the onset of gingivitis.