What is gingivitis and what are common symptoms? And how do you get it to go away? Our Edmonton dentists answer common questions about gingivitis, treatment options and more in this post.
What is gingivitis?
This mild, common form of gum disease (periodontal disease) causes redness, swelling (inflammation) and irritation of the gingiva, the part of your gum surrounding the base of your teeth.
While gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, it's important to have it detected and treated early as it can lead to periodontitis (a much more serious form of gum disease) and tooth loss.
Causes of Gingivitis
Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gingivitis as it allows plaque to form on teeth. This is how the process works:
Plaque develops on your teeth. This sticky film is invisible and composed primarily of bacteria that forms when sugars and starches in food interact with bacteria that's normally in the mouth. Because it forms quickly, plaque requires daily removal with diligent brushing and flossing.
Plaque becomes tartar. Plaque that remains on the teeth can also make its way under your gumline and harden into tartar (calculus). At this point the plaque becomes more difficult to remove and the gums can become irritated. A dental professional will need to clean your teeth to remove the tartar.
Gingiva become inflamed (gingivitis). The longer that plaque and tartar stay on your teeth, the more the gums (gingiva) become irritated and inflamed. Over time, the gums start to swell and bleed easily. Cavities and tooth decay may also occur. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and eventual tooth loss.
Some health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, diabetes and others may increase the risk of developing gingivitis.
It's imperative to maintain good oral health habits, such as brushing your teeth at least twice every day, flossing daily and booking regular dental checkups with your Edmonton dentist. Doing these things can help prevent or reverse gingivitis.
Healthy gums are firm and pale pink in colour. They wrap tightly around the teeth. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Bad breath
- Dusky red or dark red gums
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
How do you get gingivitis to go away?
If your dentist has diagnosed you with early-stage gum disease, one of the first questions you'll have is likely, "What is the fastest way to cure gingivitis?"
To get rid of gingivitis, plaque and tartar buildup must be reversed so your gums have an opportunity to recover.
While gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and can be reversed, there is a narrow window of opportunity to do so.
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush twice a day, gently working around each tooth. Make sure to brush for at least two minutes each time. Floss once a day to remove plaque from between teeth. Finally, use an antiseptic, antibacterial or antigingivitis fluoride mouth rinse, which will help strengthen tooth enamel against acid attacks due to plaque.
Once the condition has progressed to the later stages, it's not reversible but some of the symptoms can be managed.
Can gingivitis cure itself?
While milder cases of gingivitis can be treated with a solid at-home oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing, it may take some time to go away.
Your Edmonton dentist will have several techniques and tips, and use dental equipment to help to help speed up the recovery process, which is why it's important to visit your dentist regularly.
How long does gingivitis last for?
For those with gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene, it takes an average of about 10 to 14 days after treatment, along with proper oral healthcare, for gingivitis to go away.
Keep in mind that this is a general timeline and that there are many factors that can change this estimation, for example:
- The severity of gum disease
- If any bone grafts or surgical repair is required
- Whether other health conditions are contributing to the gingivitis
- The extent to which you adhere to your dentist's oral healthcare guidelines
Gingivitis Treatment at Azarko Dental Group
Our dentists recommend prompt treatment for gingivitis to prevent the progression to more serious forms of gum disease and tooth loss. For the best chance for successful treatment, we recommend quitting tobacco and adopting a vigorous daily oral care routine.
Professional gingivitis treatment includes:
Professional dental cleaning - An initial professional cleaning will include eliminating all traces of plaque, tartar and bacteria. This procedure is called scaling and root planing. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth and under the gumline.
Root planing removes bacteria produced by inflammation and smooths the surfaces of the roots. This discourages further buildup of bacteria and tartar, and allows for proper healing.
Dental restoration, if required - If your dentist notices misaligned teeth or a poorly fitting denture or crown are contributing to your oral hygiene issue and irritating the gums, they may recommend having these issues corrected as these can make it more difficult to remove plaque at home.
Ongoing care - Gingivitis usually clears up after a thorough professional cleaning, as long as you continue to practice excellent oral hygiene at home. Your dentist can help you create an effective at-home oral healthcare routine and schedule of regular professional checkups and cleaning to work hand-in-hand and keep your mouth healthy.