Gingivitis – Gum Disease

Advice about gum disease from our Harley Street dentist

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums (gingivae) which surround the teeth. It is perhaps one of the better known of the diseases of the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth. Although usually relatively mild, it can in rare cases be quite serious and even life threatening in the most extreme cases.

The inflammation is caused by plaque and bacteria which thrive in the mouth due to the warm damp environment. This is usually not noticeable as the body’s immune system prevents this from becoming a problem, however if the immune system is compromised then gingivitis will occur as bacteria invades the gums and other soft tissues.

There are several symptoms of gingivitis. The most likely symptom in the early stages is a redness and swelling of the gums. This is caused by plaque build up which in turn attracts more bacteria which in turn sticks to the plaque. Other possible symptoms include bleeding, tenderness and mouth sores. In very rare but serious cases, there may be a fever and even difficulty in breathing or swallowing. If these symptoms are present, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention.

To prevent gingivitis, it is important to keep regular appointments with your dentist to keep your teeth and gums in good condition.  Naturally, it is important that a good oral hygiene routine is followed including brushing and flossing. A good quality mouth wash is also recommended to help rid the mouth of bacteria.

Your dentist will be able to treat gingivitis in most cases if it occurs, although if it persists, it is recommended that you see your doctor in case there are other underlying causes. Often dental treatment will consist simply of professional cleaning to get rid of any plaque build up; however, your dentist may also take x-rays to ensure that the disease has not spread to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

According to the British Dental Health Foundation; at some point in our lives, 19 out of 20 of us will suffer from gingivitis, with men more likely than women, If not treated, gingivitis may lead to the more serious periodontitis which is highly likely to lead to tooth loss.

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