What is Gum Infection?
Gum Infection which is also known by the name of gingivitis is pathological condition involving the gums of the teeth in which they get inflamed due to a bacterial infection. If a Gum Infection is left untreated then it may cause the gums to get separated from the teeth and ultimately may take a turn towards the worse causing a medical condition called periodontitis where the affected individual may ultimately lose the teeth. In fact, untreated Gum Infection is the major cause of loss of teeth in adults across the United States. If an individual maintains good oral hygiene, stays away from any sort of tobacco use then he or she may prevent a Gum Infection.
What Causes Gum Infection?
The gums are the part of the mouth to which the teeth are attached to. In fact, the teeth get attached to a certain point lower than the part of the gums that are visible. This creates a space called sulcus. It is normal for the food particles to get trapped in this space resulting in Gum Infection. Another cause for Gum Infection is formation of plaques. Plaque is a film of bacteria, which constantly forms on the surface of the teeth. Advancement of the plaques leads to development of tartar, which further results in development of Gum Infection. If not treated, Gum Infection may lead to serious conditions like periodontitis and ultimately loss of teeth.
What are the Risk Factors for Gum Infection?
Some of the risk factors for Gum Infection are:
- Tobacco use.
- Medical conditions like diabetes.
- Certain medications like oral contraceptives, steroids, and anticonvulsants may also increase the risk for Gum Infection.
- An individual with a crooked teeth is also at risk for developing Gum Infection.
- Fitting dentures or other dental appliances may also put an individual at risk for developing Gum Infection.
- Pregnancy is yet another risk factor for Gum Infection.
- Some studies suggest a genetic predisposition to Gum Infection.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Infection?
Gum Infection is usually asymptomatic in many cases and hence there are many people who do not even know that they have a Gum Infection, although there are certain symptoms which may be caused due to Gum Infection and these symptoms are:
- Red and swollen gums.
- Bleeding gums.
- Gums that are separated from the teeth.
- Loose teeth.
- Formation of pus between teeth and gums.
- Pain with chewing.
- Hypersensitive teeth.
- Foul breath which does not improve even after brushing or using mouth fresheners.
How is Gum Infection Diagnosed?
If an individual has the symptoms mentioned above then a consult with dentist is required to rule in or rule out Gum Infection. The dentist will examine the gums and look for any signs of inflammation. If Gum Infection is suspected then the dentist may also order radiologic studies in the form of an x-ray to check for bone loss and further confirm the diagnosis of Gum Infection. In case if you carry risk factors for Gum Infection then that needs to be told to the dentist for easy diagnosis. All these tests are good enough to give a confirmatory diagnosis of Gum Infection.
How is Gum Infection Treated?
A good oral hygiene is a must for treatment of Gum Infection. Abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and any medications which may cause Gum Infection is also recommended. The patient needs to keep diabetes under strict control to treat Gum Infection. There are also certain specific treatments for Gum Infection and these treatments are:
Teeth Cleaning: Cleaning the teeth helps in clearing off all the plaque and tartar formation in the teeth to prevent further irritation to the gum and hence worsening the condition. There are several ways to clean the teeth off plaque or tartar like scaling, which removes the plaque and tartar from the gums line. Root planing is yet another way to clean the teeth and remove any infected tooth.
Medications: There are also certain medications that can be given for treating Gum Infection. These medications are antibiotic mouthwashes, antiseptic chips which contain chlorhexidine can also be inserted into the root pockets for disinfecting the teeth, oral antibiotics are also sometimes given to treat gum inflammation. Doxycycline is the medication of choice used to treat Gum Infection.
Surgery: There are basically two types of surgery done for treating Gum Infection. One is a flap surgery in which the gums are lifted black and all the plaque and tartar is removed. The gums are then sutured, so that they are tightly fit around the tooth. Another surgery which is done for Gum Infection is bone and tissue grafting, which is done in cases where the teeth and the jaw are in such a poor condition that it is very difficult for them to heal with the usual approaches utilized for treating Gum Infection.
How to Prevent Gum Infection?
Proper oral hygiene, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol of any kind, limiting use of oral contraceptives, taking good care of the teeth when pregnant are some of the ways through which one can prevent onset of Gum Infection.