What is gingivitis? What are signs, symptoms and treatment of gingivitis? Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums. The primary reason for gingivitis is dental plaque. An accumulation of microbial film on tooth surface causes inflammatory response in the gingival tissue. This inflammatory response of the tissue will lead to inflammation. As inflammation does not only imply swelling but also redness, pain etc. Gingival tissue that is inflamed may also have these symptoms. It is only after a careful look in to the signs and symptoms of gingivitis that its treatment can be sought. The treatment of gingivitis depends on several factors.
Gingivitis can have either of the two courses; it can be acute or chronic. Acute gingivitis has more prominent features, it has a sudden onset, short duration and can be painful. Chronic gingivitis on the other hand has a longer duration and is painless, unless some other problem aggravates it. Chronic gingivitis develops when gingivitis is left untreated for a long time. Another form of it is recurrent gingivitis in which the inflammation resolves and returns, time and again.
Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis
In general, the clinical picture of gingivitis may have any of these: redness, swelling, sponginess of gingival tissue, bleeding from gums on provocation, changes in color and contour of gingiva and pain. Gingivitis can be localized (involving gums of one or a few teeth, with the rest of the gum tissue normal or generalized (involving all most of the gums).
One of the first signs of gingivitis to appear is bleeding on provocation. If the dentist checks with an instrument the inflamed gums will bleed easily. Similarly, the patient may experience bleeding while brushing teeth, eating hard food (e.g. apples). With increased severity of disease, bleeding also changes in its severity, duration and ease of provocation.
Color if gums also changes with inflammation. The normal color of gums is coral pink. While there are other factors that can change this color, gingivitis changes it to red or in more advanced cases, to red with a bluish hint.
Treatment of Gingivitis
As plaque is the primary etiological factor of gingivitis. Its removal is the main goal of treatment. It is important to understand that professional help is needed and it is not something that can be treated at home only. Plaque removal is the most essential component of treatment. Proper brushing technique, a good fluoride toothpaste, use of other aids like dental floss can all be very effective. For the removal of calculus, a dental hygienist or dentist should be consulted. Proper scaling removes calculus and helps in achieving a healthier, cleaner oral environment for patient to maintain.
If there are any restorations (fillings, crowns, inlays) present that have become defected overtime, they need to be taken care of. Defected restorations can be a hub for bacteria to grow and cause an inflammatory response. Smoother surfaces are easier to clean and harder for bacteria to grow on. Any surfaces of teeth with dental caries should be treated with restoration.
A good antimicrobial mouthwash like Listerine can also be used to keep the oral environment more clean and less susceptible to attack by bacteria.