Gingivitis is a form of gum disease wherein only the gums are infected. If not treated, the infection could move lower and affect the jawbone, a more severe variety of gum disease known as periodontitis.
Both conditions can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other grave conditions. Early detection is key.
Early warning signs to note include:
Bad Breath: bacteria in the mouth feed off plaque and release foul-smelling toxins. Thus, seriously stinky breath means an abundance of bacteria and could be a predictor of serious gum disease.
Inflamed Gums: tender, swollen gums are usually the first signs of gum diseases. The gum also tends to easily bleed when you brush or floss.
Shrinking Gums: when bones begin deteriorating due to diseases, gums start to separate or recede from the teeth.
Sensitive Teeth: when your gums recede, the dentin – the sensitive part of the tooth – are exposed. Therefore, hot or cold drinks will cause pain.
Shaky or Unstable Teeth: Gum disease can weaken the jawbones that hold the teeth in place, loosening them.
Your dentist will assess the extent of damage to know where to begin.
Deep cleaning: This is usually the initial course of treatment for gum disease. The dentist uses special instruments to carefully and deeply clean under the gum line.
Your dentist can also scrape off the tartar above and below your gum line in a process known as scaling.
Root planing is another cleaning procedure which entails smoothing out the rough surfaces of the tooth root to help the gum reattach.
- Antiseptic chips: these are inserted inside pockets in your gums where they gradually release medication to close the spaces and remove bacteria.
- Antibiotic gel: Your dentist applies this to pockets in the gum after deep cleaning to keep the infection in check.
- Enzyme suppressant: this tablet is used right after deep cleaning to blocks certain enzymes found in your mouth from breaking down gum tissue.
- Oral antibiotics: these are recommended for more serious infections.
- Surgery: when deep cleaning doesn’t solve the problem, an operation might be required. Surgery procedures include:
- Gum graft surgery: tissue removed from another part of the mouth is grafted onto exposed tooth root to halt decay and bone loss and protect sensitive teeth.
- Flap surgery: the surgeon lifts the gums to remove tartar deep inside and stitches them back tightly to stop further tartar formation.
Antimicrobial mouthwash can also be included in your daily oral hygiene routine to control bacteria.