Gingivitis is a disorder involving inflammation of the gingiva (gum tissue). Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease or gum disease as it is more commonly know involves inflammation and/or infection of the gum that leads to the destruction of the tissues that support the teeth including the gingiva (gums) the periodontal ligaments and eventually the tooth sockets (alveolar bone).

The long-term negative effects of plaque deposits cause gingivitis. Plaque is the soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth; composed largely of bacteria and food substances suspended in saliva. It is a major cause of tooth decay.

Plaque mineralizes into a hard deposit called calculus or tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Calculus acts as a focal point for plaque accumulation bacteria and hinders complete removal of plaque. Both plaque and calculus play an important role in gingivitis. As gums ヤpull awayヤ from the teeth as a result of gum-disease pockets begin to form between the teeth and gums. Plaque and calculus fill these pockets until eventually the jawbone supporting the teeth are destroyed and cause the gums to become infected swollen and tender.

Plaque is not the only cause of gingivitis other common causes include injury or trauma to the gums from any cause including overly vigorous brushing or flossing of the teeth.

Besides the above causes of gingivitis there are other conditions that risk the onset of gingivitis and these are highlighted below:

Uncontrolled diabetes Pregnancy General (systemic) illness Poor dental hygiene Misaligned teeth Rough edges of fillings Ill-fitting or unclean mouth appliances e.g. dentures bridges and crowns Medications such as phenytoin and birth control pills Ingestion of heavy metals such as lead and bismuth

Many people experience gingivitis to a varying degree. It usually develops during puberty or early adulthood due to hormonal changes and may persist or recur frequently depending on the oral hygiene status of each person.

Good oral hygiene is the best prevention against gingivitis because it removes the plaque that is the main cause of the disorder. Brushing teeth at least twice daily and flossing gently at least once per day is recommended to prevent gingivitis.

People who are prone to recurring gingivitis may need special appliances or tools to remove plaque deposits. Appliances and tools may include special toothpicks toothbrushes water irrigation or other devices. Antiplaque or antitartar toothpastes or mouth rinses are also helpful in preventing gingivitis as is regular professional tooth cleaning at least every 6 months.

There are multiple symptoms of gingivitis and theses are listed below:

Mouth sores Swollen gums Gums appear bright red or red-purple Gums appear shiny Gums bleed easily Gums are tender when touched but otherwise painless

Dentists usually diagnose gingivitis after patients come to them after seeing the signs of gingivitis whilst brushing. An examination of the mouth and teeth shows soft swollen red-purple gingiva as well as visible deposits of plaque and calculus at the base of the teeth.

No further testing is usually necessary to diagnose gingivitis although sometimes dental X-rays and dental gingival probing (measuring the amount of bone) may be performed to determine whether Periodontitis (the spread of inflammation to the supporting structures of the teeth) has developed.

Treatment gingivitis is relatively straightforward and the goal is usually the reduction of gingival inflammation.

The teeth are cleaned thoroughly by the dentist or dental hygienist using techniques that can include scaling and root planing which involve the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove plaque deposits from the teeth.

Thorough oral hygiene is necessary after professional tooth cleaning and dentists normally demonstrate brushing and flossing techniques. Professional tooth cleaning in addition to brushing and flossing may be recommended twice per year or more frequently for severe cases. Antibacterial mouth rinses or other aids may be recommended in addition to frequent careful tooth brushing and flossing.

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