What is Gingivitis

Gingivitis is essentially the beginning phases of gum disease.

It is caused when plaque and bacteria build-up at the base of the tooth and start releasing toxins into the gum tissue. Thankfully, at this early stage, gingivitis is easily treatable and won’t leave any lasting damage. If left untreated though, gingivitis could progress to become periodontal disease – a dangerous infection which could cause tooth loss.

It is imperative that one has a dental plan in place, in order to receive the best dentistry in South Africa to fight diseases like these before they develop.

There are two main categories of gingivitis; Dental plaque-induced gingival disease and Non-plaque induced gingival lesions.

The first category occurs from improper brushing. The gums are made up of soft tissue, and so they are especially susceptible to infection and disease. This is why proper brushing is so important – you’re not just cleaning your teeth when you brush, you’re protecting your gums too.

The second category of gingivitis has many causes, from encounters with particular strains of viruses and bacteria to ill-fitting dentures.

Gingivitis presents with discolouration, tenderness and swelling. Your gums will feel tender to the touch, and you may experience discomfort and even bleeding when brushing or flossing. Sometimes gingivitis causes the gums to recede, so your teeth look longer than normal. It also causes little pockets to form within the gums, and when food and plaque get trapped in these pockets you’ll develop bad breath and perhaps even a consistently bad taste in your mouth.

Certain people are more susceptible to developing gingivitis than others. You’re more likely to develop early stage gum disease if you’re pregnant, or if you smoke or chew tobacco regularly. People who have dental issues such as crooked teeth, broken fillings or have ill-fitting dental appliances are also more likely to develop gingivitis because it’s more difficult to properly clean teeth in these conditions. There are also genetic factors which increase susceptibility, as well as diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, that factor into your risk of developing gum disease. Despite all these risk factors, gingivitis is still treatable if it’s diagnosed early enough. So, if you suspect gingivitis in your gums, be sure to schedule a consultation with your dentist as quickly as possible. These visits can be expensive but with a good dental plan, you could end up saving a lot of money in the long run – as well as your teeth.

During your consultation, your dentist will run diagnostic tests for gingivitis. They will most likely probe the gums to determine whether there is any inflammation present, before doing a set of x-rays to check for bone loss.

The treatment for gingivitis is usually a combination of a few options – typically a professional cleaning, medications and antibiotics. The cleaning will rid the mouth of plaque and stubborn tartar and the medications will stop the infection. If your gum disease has significantly progressed, you may need surgery to repair the air pockets in the gums, and a bone or tissue graft to reverse the damage. Surgery seems like a drastic step, but gum disease is a serious condition which, if left untreated, could cause significant damage to the facial structures.

Prevention is always better than cure though, and by implementing a few good oral hygiene habits, you could stave off gingivitis and prevent gum disease entirely. By simply brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time, eating crunchy fruits and vegetables and seeing your dentist every 6 months, you won’t need to worry about bad breath, losing teeth or bone and tissue loss due to gingivitis. A great dental plan means you won’t need to stress about the cost of your consultations so take a look at the plans we have available and contact us if you have any questions.

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