Gingivitis & Gum Disease
So, you’ve been told you’ve got Gingivitis? What is it?
Gingivitis means inflamed gums. It is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. It is a sticky film of bacteria which naturally forms on the surface of the tooth (every day!) but is completely harmless in its EARLY STAGES. Plaque is also called biofilm these days. When it’s not thoroughly cleaned off every day and it is allowed to ‘mature’ it starts to release destructive bacterial bi products which kicks off the body’s immune response.
So Who Gets It?
Anybody and almost everybody at ANY age can get gingivitis. Different people will respond to the biofilm at different rates. Some people respond to biofilm which is only 1 day old, whereas some people don’t respond until the biofilm has been in the mouth for much longer. There is no way of knowing which people will become susceptible earlier, which is why we advise cleaning the way we do, to help prevent gingivitis in the first place. It is generally thought that most people will have an attack of gingivitis at some point in their lives.
Will I have bad breath?
Sometimes yes, but not always. It is more likely to be the smell of the bacteria though, rather than the gums themselves.
If it’s all about bacteria, why can’t I just have antibiotics?
Gingivitis is not an infection, but a reaction to the biofilm not being removed effectively. As soon as we remove the biofilm, the inflammation reduces without the need for antibiotics. If you were to take antibiotics, they would only work while you were taking the medication. As soon as the course runs out, and the biofilm is still there, the inflammation starts all over again.
Does it matter if I’m a smoker?
Smoking often disguises some of the symptoms of gingivitis, like bleeding gums or redness. Often smokers don’t realise they have gingivitis and can come as a bit of a shock. Always try and give up smoking if you possibly can.
So, who will help me?
Jules, our practice owner, has over 29 years’ experience in Dentistry and is passionate about helping treat (and prevent) both gingivitis and gum disease.
Jules has worked alongside a periodontist (gum disease specialist) for over 10 years, and is friendly, caring and patient.
April is also extremely experienced in treating and preventing gingivitis & gum disease.
Please bring your tooth brushing products with you for your appointments with her as she will help you achieve the best possible outcomes at home cleaning. As mentioned earlier, this is essential in treating gingivitis and gum disease.
What are the signs & symptoms?
Similar to inflammation anywhere in the body, the symptoms are consistent with an increased blood flow to an area which is trying to deal with bacteria. You may notice some (or all) of these symptoms: Gums are swollen, red and/or shiny, feel tender to the touch, have a bad taste & bad breath. Lots of people say that their gums also bleed when they brush them, or try to clean in between their teeth with floss, or little brushes etc.
It’s worth noting that healthy gums should look pink, be firm, be comfortable to the touch, and will NEVER bleed when brushed or flossed.
Is Gingivitis ‘Gum Disease’?
It is considered to be the early stages of gum disease, but to be classed as gum disease, it needs to have caused some bone loss which isn’t visible just by looking in your mouth and needs to be diagnosed with X Rays. Leaving gingivitis untreated doesn’t necessarily mean it will always lead to gum disease, but the chances of this happening are greatly increased.
What treatment will I need?
Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat. However, HOW effective the treatment depends entirely on how effective your daily biofilm removal is at home, and in between appointments.
If you have gingivitis, it just means that the way you’ve been cleaning hasn’t removed ALL the bacteria effectively. This may be in just one small area, or a larger area in your mouth. So, during the appointments, we will focus a lot of time on which products you are currently using, and how you are using them to make your cleaning at home as effective as possible, to help prevent further problems in the future.
We will then help to remove all the deposits which you cannot reach and are actually attached to your teeth (sometimes known as calculus or tartar)