Gingivitis and gum disease are two different afflictions, but are closely related. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and precedes periodontitis, known as gum disease. Gingivitis is easy and relatively simple to treat, but many people mistake the symptoms of gingivitis for over brushing or using too much force while brushing. If not treated properly, gingivitis can result in progressive periodontitis and tooth loss may occur.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is caused when bacteria found in plaque build up causes the gum tissue around your teeth to become inflamed, or swollen. The most common symptom of gingivitis is bleeding when brushing your teeth or flossing. When you first notice blood during your oral health regimen and it lasts more than a few days, call your dentist for an appointment. Not all cases of gingivitis will lead to gum disease and at the early stages no bone or tissue damage has occurred and your teeth remain firmly imbedded.
Treatment for gingivitis usually amounts to changing your tooth brush, having an in office dental cleaning that removes the plaque and tartar from your teeth. Repeat professional cleanings are sometimes necessary to fully treat gingivitis and prevent the progression to periodontitis.
Gingivitis that is already progressing to periodontitis may need scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning that is done under local anesthetic but is not surgical. This involves scraping away the plaque from above and below the gum line and smoothing the surfaces of the teeth with a planer. Smoothing over the teeth removes bacteria and makes natural gum reattachment easier.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Although not all gingivitis advances to gum disease, every case of periodontitis began as gingivitis. Plaque is the ultimate culprit is what causes this disease but there are other factors that can include hormones, illness, medication side affects, smoking, and poor hygiene that also plays a role in periodontitis, gum disease.
Although there are some symptoms similar to gingivitis such as bleeding when brushing, inflamed gums, or red, tender gums, there are more significant symptoms including:
• Bad Breath
• Loose Teeth
• Changes in the way your teeth fit in your mouth
• Bad taste in your mouth
• Deep pockets between gums and teeth
Treatment for Gum Disease
If gum disease is left untreated, you will start to lose your teeth and begin to have bone loss and damage in your jaw as well. Deep cleaning can be used to treat gum disease, but advanced cases may need surgical options such as bone and tissue grafts, regenerative medicine, and pocket reduction surgery. You may also need dental implants to replace teeth that have been lost.