What is Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis?

inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is one of the most common forms of infections in gum that is characterized by swelling, redness and irritation at the base of the teeth, known as gingiva. It is not a severe health problems but can lead to complications if not taken care in time. If the treatment is not started promptly, the infection can take the form of periodontitis that may even lead to loss of affected tooth. Usually, inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is caused due to ignorance of oral hygiene. Taking proper care of teeth such as flossing daily and brushing teeth in the morning and after the meal at night can help in preventing gum problems including inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis. Regular dental checkups are necessary to identify occurrence of any gum problems.

What is Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis?

Causes of Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

Negligence of Oral Hygiene is the major cause of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis. If the teeth are not brushed properly and regularly, there is formation of plaque that promotes the infection and inflammation at the base of the teeth. Plaque is the main reason that causes inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis.

  • Formation of plaque. When the teeth are not brushed properly, a transparent layer of plaque can form on the teeth. Formation of plaque results due to the interaction of bacteria with the food particles especially sugar and starch deposited on teeth. Plaque needs to removed on a daily basis to prevent its reformation and cause any infection.
  • Plaque leads to a harder layer of tartar. If the layer of plaque is left unattended, it can continue to get worse and takes the form of a harder layer known as tartar. It is made of calculus and further promotes the growth of bacteria leading to severe gum infections. Tartar is harder layer that forms over the layer of plaque providing a protective covering under which the bacteria can continue to grow. At this stage, it becomes almost impossible to get rid of bacteria without professional care and treatment.
  • Tartar causes inflammation in gingiva. The layer of tartar continues to promote the growth bacteria that causes inflammation in the tissue at the base of the teeth known as gingiva. As the infection gets worse, it starts to become painful with selling and bleeding. If the infection is not treated at this stage, it can lead to complications such as periodontitis or tooth decay.

Symptoms of Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

The occurrence of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis can be easily identified by observing any problems or deviation from healthy gums. Healthy gums have light pink appearance and holds the teeth firmly. Infection in gums is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Visible swelling in the gums with puffy tissues at the base of the teeth is the primary symptom of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis.
  • The color of the gums change from pale pink to dark red.
  • Bleeding of gums while brushing or floss action.
  • The infection is often associated with bad breath.
  • The gums tends to become loose and appear to detach from teeth.
  • The gums feel tender when touched.

Is Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis Contagious?

Inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is a form of bacterial infection in gums and thus it is contagious in nature. It can easily spread from the infected individual to other through exchange of saliva during sharing silverware, cups or kissing.

Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis vs Healthy Gums

Inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is a direct reflection of unhealthy gums affected by harmful bacterial growth over the teeth. Healthy gums are marked by tight tissue that holds the base of the teeth firmly. They have a pale pink appearance and free from any type of odour. On the other hand, gums tend to have swelling and inflammation in case of gingivitis. It makes the gums loose and dark reddish in color with bad breath.

Tests to Diagnose Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

Inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is associated with distinct symptoms that makes it easier for and individual or a dentist to identify it. However, there are certain standard procedures and tests to diagnose inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis.

  • Looking at the medical history of the patient. There are many dental problems that can have symptoms similar to inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis and thus a dentist first looks for the medical history especially the dental history to understand the possible causes of underlying symptoms.
  • Close dental examination. The first part of diagnosis of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis consists of a physical examination of the gums to look for signs of bacterial infection.
  • Pocket depth measurement is one of the primary tests that involves inserting a dental probe between the teeth and gums to measure the pocket depth. The probe is inserted at different locations in the mouth at the gum line. Pocket depth of 1 to 3 mm is a symbol of healthy gums whereas pocket depth of 4 mm or more is a clear reflection of gum problems.
  • If your dentists finds any deeper pockets in the gum line, he/she would recommend dental X-rays to look for any loss of tooth under the infected gums.
  • If the above tests are unable to reveal the true cause of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis, some more tests are required to identify other health conditions that may be responsible for the dental problems. Complicated cases of gingivitis are usually referred to periodontist, who is a specialist in gum diseases to look for advance problems.

Treatment for Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

Once inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is detected, it is important to start treatment immediately to prevent the infection from spreading and getting severe. During the initial stages of bacterial infection, inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis can be easily treated at home by taking necessary steps to ensure healthy gums. If you are a tobacco user, it is strongly recommended to stop intake of tobacco in any form. Advance level of bacterial infection requires professional care and treatment.

  • Professional dental cleaning. The first step in treating inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis is to get rid of the layer of tartar and plaque along with all the bacteria growing in this layer. The professional cleaning is performed by a special method referred as scaling and root planning. Scaling is the first phase of the advanced treatment during which the dentist cleans the layer of tartar and bacteria from the surface of the teeth. In the next phase of root planning, the dentist cleans off the base of the tooth to free it from any bacterial products that are left after the inflammation. It also ensures the bacterial infection is not repeated and also helps in proper healing of gums. There are various ways of carrying out this procedure including an ultrasonic device, a laser device or other instruments.
  • Dental restoration is not necessarily required in all cases of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis treatment. In some cases of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis where the cause of bacterial infection indirectly lies in poorly fitted bridges, crown, or misalignment of teeth. In all such situations, it can be difficult to brush teeth properly and prevent formation of plague. Dental restoration is procedure that involves aligning your teeth properly to allow proper cleaning and dental care. This treatment option is particularly needed in special cases of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis.
  • In case of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis, there is always a possibility of bacterial infection repeating itself if the treatment is not followed by proper ongoing care. It is extremely important for an individual to take care of teeth by regular brushing and floss action to make sure that the infection does not repeat itself. Your dentist would provide a proper care procedure to be followed after the treatment. Also, you would be required to go for regular dental check-ups following the treatment to detect re-occurrence of bacterial infection.

Home Remedies for Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

Salt has special antibacterial and antiseptic properties that makes it one of the best substances to use for treating inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis at home. Salt can be mixed with lukewarm water to prepare a saline solution to rinse your mouth in the morning and before going to bed. It can also be mixed with mustard oil to gently massage swollen gums.

Prevention of Inflammation of Gum Tissue or Gingivitis

The simplest way to prevent inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis or bacterial infection in gums is to take care of proper oral hygiene. Teeth must be brushed twice a day, once in the morning and then in the night after dinner. Flossing every day along with brushing is also important. There are variety of products such as mouth washes containing chlorhexidine, alcohol, or toothpaste containing hydrogen peroxide that are easily available in the market can be used to keep all the bacterial infections away. Hydrogen peroxide in particularly is identified as an effective substance in fighting signs of inflammation of gum tissue or gingivitis. Regular dental checkups at least twice an year is necessary to identify any dental problems before they can get worse.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 10, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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