Gingivitis Symptoms and Signs
- Swelling, redness, pain, and bleeding of the gums are signs of gingivitis. Swelling of the gums is referred to as gingival hyperplasia.
- The breath begins to take on a foul odor.
- The gums begin to lose their normal structure and color. The gums, which were once strong and pink, begin to recede away from the teeth and take on a beefy red, inflamed color. This gum recession leads to exposed tooth root and bone and can develop into an abscess.
- Inflammation is a complex system by which bacteria-fighting cells of the body are recruited to an area of bacterial infection. Inflammation plays a major role in gingivitis. It is this inflammation of the gums that accounts for most of the symptoms of gingivitis.
- When bacteria first begin to invade the gums, proteins present in the saliva and soft tissues called antibodies coat the bacteria and weaken it, making it an easy target for the body's immune system. The
immune cells that encounter the bacteria first attempt to kill it and, in the meantime, release chemicals into the bloodstream to call other
immune cells to their aid.
- A particular cell called a macrophage is responsible for ingesting the bacteria and dissolving them. This system works nicely, but it is not terribly efficient. While the invading bacteria are destroyed, chemicals used by the immune cells to kill them are spilled into the surrounding tissues. This not only kills the bacteria but damages the nearby connective tissues and cells of the gums as well.
- The body sees this inflammation as a small price to pay for stopping the bacteria. This process will continue until the source of the infection is removed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/6/2014
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