Gingivitis is a condition in which the gums—the gingival tissues—become inflamed due to the presence of bacteria. Gingivitis itself is not a serious condition, but if it is not treated, it can develop into severe gum disease that could require extensive, invasive treatment such as gum surgery. If you notice any of the first signs of gingivitis, you should let your dentist know so your treatment can begin right away.
Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is a minor inflammation of the gum tissue that produces minimal symptoms. However, if you notice anything different about your gums, or if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should talk to your dentist:
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Increased sensitivity, especially along the gum line
- A red, shiny, or swollen look to the gums
Any of these could indicate developing inflammation in the gingival tissues.
Your dentist will also check for signs of gingivitis during your regular visits. In the dental office, he or your dental hygienist will use a special tool to measure the depth of the pockets around your teeth, where the gums meet the tooth roots. If these pockets are deeper than one or two millimeters, it means the gums are pulling away from the tooth roots. This is a sign of inflammation or developing infection, and requires treatment.
Treatment for Gingivitis and Gum Disease
Treatment for gingivitis is fairly simple. Your dentist might recommend a baking soda toothpaste or another form of toothpaste specially designed to treat symptoms of gingivitis. Antibacterial mouthwash can also help reduce the inflammation.
If the inflammation is more serious, you might require a course of antibiotics to eliminate it. As gum disease progresses, treatment becomes more invasive. A deep cleaning in the dental office might be the next step. Called planing and scaling, this technique removes the infection from under the gums and evens out the surfaces of the tooth roots. If gum disease has become very serious, your teeth might start to feel loose. At this stage, you might require gum surgery or gum grafting in order to save your teeth.