Definition of Gingivitis:
An inflammation of the gums characterized by a change in color from normal pink to red, with swelling, bleeding, and often sensitivity and tenderness. These changes result when a layer of bacteria accumulates along the gum line and triggers the body’s inflammatory response. The pocketing or probing depths of tissues are less than or equal to 4mm with bleeding upon probing.
- Swollen gums
- Bright red or red-purple appearance to gums
- Shiny appearance to gums
- Bleeding gums (blood on toothbrush or floss even with gentle brushing and flossing)
- Gums that are tender when touched, but otherwise painless
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
- Bacteria, plaque and tartar accumulation
Risk Factors for Gingivitis:
- Poor oral hygiene (lack of flossing, brushing, rinsing)
- Certain medications, such as steroids, some anti-epilepsy and cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, oral contraceptives
- Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, leukemia, autoimmune diseases
- Tobacco use
- Poor nutrition
- Defective or rough dental restorations
Gingivitis Treatment Options:
Gingivitis therapy aims to remove the irritating plaque and prevent its return. To help avoid the occurrence of gingivitis or to reverse gingivitis, you should:
- Brush twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste that contains an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45° angle to the line where your teeth and gums meet. Move the brush in small circular movements along the gum line and chewing surfaces of your teeth. A power toothbrush may make brushing easier and more efficient.
- Floss daily. Hold the floss tight. Gently bring it down between the teeth. Do not pop the floss against the gum. Curve the floss around the tooth and gently rub up and down. Adjust the floss so you use a fresh section for each tooth, including the back side of the last teeth. Alternate flossing methods are available for patients who have difficulty flossing or who cannot floss.
- Rinse with an antiplaque, anti-gingivitis mouthwash that contains either cetylpyridinium chloride or essential oils. Listerine and Colgate Advance Proshield are popular brands of antiseptic rinses.
- Visit your dentist or dental hygienist every 3 to 6 months, depending upon the severity of the gingivitis. Your dental professional will be able to help you manage gingivitis by reviewing your risk factors and oral hygiene habits in order to create a home-care regimen that works for you. They can get to areas in your mouth that you are not able to properly access at home even with good home care.