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Gingivitis a common dental disease

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

What is gingivitis? Gingivitis is generally a mild form of gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Gingivitis happens when bacteria infect the gums, often making them swollen, red, and quick to bleed. You can successfully manage gingivitis, especially with the help of a dentist. But if left untreated, this condition can lead to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.

Gingivitis is a very common oral illness. Almost half of all adults older than 30 have some kind of gum disease. Of course, we all have bacteria in our mouth. Most bacteria are normal, natural and safe. But a few types of bacteria can create plaque, a sticky, almost invisible film on the teeth. If we don’t clean our teeth regularly and thoroughly, the bacteria and plaque can cause an infection where our teeth meet your gums. This infection is called gingivitis. Plaque eventually hardens and becomes tartar, which is harder to remove. Tartar can trap more bacteria, and this can lead to worsening gingivitis.

Let us now review the most common symptoms of gingivitis. Gingivitis often doesn’t cause any symptoms, so we may have it and not know it. However, if we have gingivitis, it may worsen over time, and we may develop the following oral symptoms of gingivitis. We may develop bad breath that doesn’t go away, even after brushing. We may have gums that bleed easily, particularly when we brush our teeth. We may also develop red swollen gums and have a sensitivity to hot or cold foods. People with gingivitis may also experience pain and tenderness when chewing their food.

If we have one or more of the above symptoms of gingivitis, we should see our dentist without delay. Your dentist may examine you at your next checkup or even make a special appointment. How soon you should be seen be your dentist depends on how long you’ve had any of the above symptoms and how severe they are. Your dentist will inspect your mouth for gum bleeding, for signs of infection such as redness and swelling, for loose teeth, and for gums that are pulling away from the teeth. If your dentist suspects gum disease, X-rays may also be ordered that can show if the gingivitis has affected the bones underneath. Your dentist may also refer you to a periodontist, a gum disease dental specialist.

Let us now briefly review the treatment for gingivitis. Treatment for gingivitis aims to control the infection and restore healthy teeth and gums. Your dentist or periodontist will thoroughly clean your teeth to remove harmful bacteria, plaque and tartar. Additional treatments include the following. Your dentist may perform scaling and root planing. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from teeth and from underneath your gums. Planing smooths the surfaces of the roots of the teeth to prevent bacteria from sticking.

Your dentist may also need to fix or remove crowns, fillings, or bridges that stick out or don’t fit right. Smoother surfaces are easier to keep clean. A good personal oral hygiene routine will also be recommended. A good dental cleaning usually clears up gingivitis. It is important for all of us to learn how to properly clean our teeth and to do this every day. The dentist may also write a prescription for an antimicrobial mouth rinse can help destroy bad bacteria.

The following are the recommendations that we all should follow to prevent gingivitis. It is well known that we can prevent gingivitis with good oral hygiene. Therefore, we should brush our teeth thoroughly twice a day. Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. We should also floss every day to remove bacteria between the teeth. Limit food and drinks that contain lots of sugar, and avoid excess alcohol consumption. It is also very important to see a dentist at least once a year for checkups, and more often if you have any dental health symptoms at all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books.Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.


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