So You’ve Been Told You Have Gingivitis. What Is It?



So You’ve Been Told You Have Gingivitis. What Is It?

Gingivitis means ‘inflammation of the gums’ and is caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms naturally on the surface of the teeth everyday and is harmless in its early stages. Plaque is also sometimes referred to as ‘biofilm’

When the plaque (biofilm) is not effectively disrupted every day and is left to mature, it starts to release destructive bacterial bi-products and the body’s immune system responds by creating an inflammatory response to protect the body/gums from further attack.

Who Gets Gingivitis?

Potentially anybody can get gingivitis at any age. As described above, if plaque is left to accumulate long enough then the body will respond. However, different people will respond to the plaque at different rates. Some people may respond to plaque that is only 1 day old while others may not respond until the plaque has been left much longer.

It is thought that most people will suffer an attack of gingivitis at some stage in their lives.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gum Disease?

Similar to inflammation anywhere in the human body, the symptoms are consistent with increased blood flow to an area as the body tries to overcome the presence of bacteria. You may have some or all of the symptoms which include gums that are swollen, red or shiny, bleed when you brush or floss them, feel tender to touch or have a bad taste.

Healthy gums should look pale pink in colour, be firm and not uncomfortable to touch and will never bleed when brushed or flossed.

Does Gingivitis Cause Bad Breath?

Sometimes yes, although technically it’s the mature plaque that causes the odour rather than the inflammation in the gums. If plaque is not removed regularly and is allowed to mature it becomes a medium for anaerobic bacteria which can release a foul smelling odour resulting in bad breath

Is Gingivitis Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is considered the early stages of gum disease however; unlike mores established gum disease which also affects the bone supporting the teeth and can lead to tooth loss; gingivitis only affects the gum tissue and can be completely reversed with the correct treatment. Leaving gingivitis untreated doesn’t necessarily mean you will go on to develop the more serious form of gum disease (periodontitis) but the chances of this happening are significantly increased.

What Treatment Will I Need?

Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat however it’s success is highly dependent on adequate daily plaque control and therefore your role in treatment is crucial. We will show you techniques aimed at cleaning your teeth to a very high standard so that bacteria levels are kept below the level that triggers inflammation. This differs from one person to the next but without adequate homecare efforts elimination of gingivitis will not occur.

You may initially experience an increase in bleeding as you adopt new cleaning techniques but this should settle within a few days as the inflammation subsides. Once you are successfully controlling the plaque build-up, we will help by removing the deposits that you cannot reach and are attached firmly to the teeth (known as tartar or calculus) This will usually be done over one or two visits. Once eliminated, it is important that you continue to practice excellent daily plaque control to prevent future attacks.

Your treatment will be carried out by one of our in-house hygienists who are specifically trained in the treatment and prevention of gum disease.

If you have any concerns ahead of your next visit please don’t hesitate to contact the surgery

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