Are your gums swollen?
Gingivitis is the inflammation or swelling of gums around the teeth caused by bacteria found in dental plaque. Healthy gums are firmly attached to the teeth and the underlying bone. Healthy gums are pale pink, brown or grey in colour or mottled.
Those with gingivitis will show inflamed, red and swollen gums. The gums will bleed easily and be tender. Mild gingivitis causes little or no pain and you might not even notice it. But if left unchecked, it can become severe. In some people, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
Plaque that gets deposited on the teeth, especially in crevices and spaces or around rough or broken fillings, is the most common cause of gingivitis. If plague is not removed timely, it hardens and the bacteria in plaque produce substances that can further harm the gums.
The hardened form of plaque is called calculus or tartar. Calculus irritates the gums. It also provides more surfaces for the bacteria to attach and grow. Gingivitis also results from the gum’s response to the growth of bacteria.
Gum disease in general and gingivitis are quite common. Almost 3 out of 4 adults, over the age of 35, have some form of gum disease.
Certain groups have an especially high risk like those with poorly-controlled diabetes, pregnant women, women on birth control pills, people taking steroid medicines. Certain prescription drugs can also cause gums to become inflamed.
These include anti-seizure medicines such as dilantin, drugs that suppress the immune system such as cyclosporine, and a few blood-pressure medicines like calcium-channel blockers.
Red, swollen gums that bleed easily, non-painful receding gums or a bad taste in the mouth are the main symptoms of gingivitis.
If you experience any of these symptoms, its best to consult a dentist immediately before it spreads and causes further damage.
Gingivitis can be reversed by removing bacteria that bind to the teeth every day. Brushing and flossing effectively helps remove plaque. If you are suffering from diabetes, keep a check on gingivitis progression.
Here are a few tips on help to prevent plague from becoming calculus.
Good dental hygiene symptoms can disappear in as little as one week
Brush your teeth regularly — early morning and before bed time are essential
Floss your teeth at least once a day
Use a soft toothbrush
Have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months to one year
The cleaning will remove calculus that has already formed
(The writer is a senior consultant dental
surgeon at Max Healthcare.)