Doctor's Notes on Gingivitis
- pain, and
As the disease progresses, receding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth and/or tooth loss can occur.
The exact reason or cause of gingivitis has not been proved. Plaque, a mix of bacteria and sticky material, plays a role in its development according to many researchers. However, other factors can also play a role (for example, underlying diseases like diabetes, HIV, alcoholism, hormone changes, and certain drugs [steroids, phenytoin] can be associated with gingivitis development). Poor dental hygiene, crowded teeth, and dental work like ill-fitting devices can contribute to the disease development.
What Is the Treatment for Gingivitis?
Early in the development of gingivitis, if treated by a dental professional, symptoms and signs abate and prevent disease progression. Treatments may include the following:
- Teeth cleaning (plaque and tartar removal) by a dental professional
- Continual care (routine follow-up teeth cleaning, tooth brushing and flossing, electric toothbrush, water pic use recommended by some dentists, for example)
- Dental restoration may be recommended (for example, treatments of underlying problems such as misalignment of teeth, missing teeth, and/or poorly fitting dental devices like crowns)
- Other suggestions: Brush two to three times per day, use a mouth rinse daily (some suggest a saltwater rinse helps heal gingivitis), and do not smoke or chew tobacco.
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Bad Breath (Halitosis)Bad breath< (halitosis) can be caused by a variety of things including diet, medication, poor oral hygiene, and diseases or conditions such as diabetes, GERD, lactose intolerance, gum disease, and more. Treatment for bad breath depends on the cause.
Dental AbscessBacteria from a tooth cavity can cause a dental abscess, or infection of the mouth, jaw, or face. Symptoms include pain, swelling, facial redness, gum inflammation, pus drainage, and occasional difficulty fully opening the mouth. Unless the abscess ruptures on its own, the abscess will need to be cut open and drained by a health-care professional. Dental abscesses can be deadly if left untreated.
Is Gingivitis Contagious?The bacteria that cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) may be spread through saliva, which means it is possible – though uncommon - to spread through kissing or sharing eating utensils or oral health equipment with someone who has gum disease.
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. Teeth are supported by the gums, or gingiva. A tooth's root is anchored to its socket by fibers called periodontal ligaments.
ToothacheToothache or tooth pain is caused when the nerve root of a tooth is irritated. Dental (tooth) infection, decay, injury, or loss of a tooth are the most common causes of toothache. One should call the doctor or dentist when experiencing toothache to receive appropriate treatment.
When to Visit the DentistMost symptoms and problems that occur with your mouth, teeth, and gums are not emergencies and usually can wait for an appointment with your dentist. Urgent dental problems include: traumatic injury that cracks or breaks teeth; cuts to the gums or mouth; tooth pain; gum swelling or redness; or jaw pain.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.