Home Diseases Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis): causes, symptoms, treatment

Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis): causes, symptoms, treatment

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 399 views

Inflammation of the gums (medical gingivitis) is an acute or chronic infection of the gums . It is usually caused by bacteria, more rarely by viruses or fungi. Inflamed gums are almost always due to poor dental hygiene. A gum injury can also cause inflammation. Typical symptoms are swollen, red gums and bleeding gums. Read more about the causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis of gingivitis here!

Short overview:

  • Description: acute or chronic infection of the gums
  • Cause: usually poor oral hygiene (with an increase in bacteria in the mouth), sometimes mechanical irritation/injury in the mouth
  • Symptoms: swelling, bleeding, bad breath
  • Examination: A visual inspection is usually sufficient for the dentist, but probe and X-ray examinations may also be possible
  • Treatment: careful oral hygiene, if necessary cleaning by the dentist
  • Prognosis: Gingivitis usually heals within a few days. If left untreated, there is a risk of periodontitis and tooth loss.

Gingivitis: causes and risk factors

If you don’t clean your teeth thoroughly on a regular basis, gingivitis can quickly develop. If there is a lack of oral hygiene , pathogens can multiply in the oral cavity. Bacteria are the most common. There are several hundred different types in the mouth. They are part of the natural oral flora and are usually harmless.

However, if the teeth are not regularly cleaned of food residues, this is literally a feast for the bacteria – they multiply rapidly. Together with food residues, metabolic products and saliva , the germs form a soft biofilm on the teeth, which is called bacterial plaque . In this plaque, the bacteria are largely protected from the defense troops of the immune system.

But that’s not all: when metabolizing the leftover food, the bacteria produce aggressive acids and toxins. These penetrate the fine gap between tooth and gum and attack the latter. The immune system reacts to this with an inflammatory reaction – gingivitis has developed.

If plaque is not brushed off regularly, calcium and other minerals build up in it. Plaque hardens and develops into tartar . Bacteria can settle more easily in its rough structure. In addition, small gum pockets (periodontitis) can form.

In addition to poor oral hygiene, brushing your teeth too intensively can also cause gingivitis: this can injure your gums. Bacteria can settle in the wound and cause inflammation.

Various risk factors make people particularly susceptible to gingivitis: These include, for example, metabolic disorders, diabetes mellitus (diabetes), alcohol and nicotine consumption, stress, hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, etc.) or a vitamin C deficiency . Certain medications for cramps (hydantoin preparations) and high blood pressure (nifedipine preparations) also promote gingivitis. The same applies to the active substance cyclosporin A. It inhibits the immune system and is therefore used after organ transplants (to prevent rejection reactions) and autoimmune diseases.

Gingivitis: Symptoms

Dentists distinguish between acute and chronic gingivitis . The former usually occurs suddenly and at the gum line. Usually it doesn’t hurt. It is estimated that around 80 percent of adults in this country have gingivitis, but are not even aware of it.

If the inflammation does not subside over a longer period of time (about a week), it is referred to as chronic. If it spreads to the periodontium and causes so-called periodontitis there, the affected person’s teeth can even fall out in severe cases.

Gingivitis is not painful. But there are other signs of gingivitis: While healthy gums are pink, fit firmly to the tooth and do not bleed, inflamed gums typically manifest themselves in the form of the following symptoms:

Gingivitis – symptoms and dangers

A special form of gingivitis is acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG). In this form, the bacteria attack the gums between the teeth. Ulcers form and the gums die. Alarm signals here are sudden high fever, pain, bad breath and exhaustion.

Gingivitis: treatment

Gingivitis usually goes away after a few days if you clean your teeth carefully on a regular basis. If it lasts longer, you should have your dentist treat the gingivitis.

What to do with gingivitis? Tips for at home

The most important remedy against gingivitis is daily oral hygiene. Bacterial deposits in particular must be removed regularly.

Usually, brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day is enough . This can prevent gingivitis or allow it to heal again. You must thoroughly clean all tooth surfaces and remove plaque. To do this, use a toothbrush with softer bristles . This reduces the risk of inflamed gums being injured or additionally irritated when brushing your teeth.

To clean the spaces between your teeth, you should use dental floss or so-called interdental brushes . Finally, you can gargle with antibacterial mouthwash or apply a special ointment . Both curb bacterial growth. Hydrogen peroxide-based formulations prescribed by the dentist also help.

Note: As a preventive measure, it is also advisable to have your teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year by your dentist. Because this also reaches the places in the mouth where you cannot reach with the toothbrush.

Gingivitis: home remedies

Some people use home remedies for gingivitis to relieve symptoms and help the inflammation go away faster. For example, you can gargle with chamomile tea . The medicinal plant has anti-inflammatory and mucosa-protecting properties. Sage , thyme or myrrh are also often used because of their anti-inflammatory and disinfecting effect.

Apple cider vinegar as a home remedy : Apple cider vinegar is also said to be a good home remedy for gingivitis. It is recommended to gargle with a mixture of two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a glass of water at least half an hour before brushing your teeth every day. This should stimulate salivation and have an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

Gingivitis: Homeopathy

Some people who are prone to recurring gingivitis use homeopathy for gingivitis to aid in healing. Silicea , Argentum nitricum or Atropa belladonna are used, for example .

The concept of homeopathy and its specific effectiveness are controversial in science and not clearly proven by studies.

Inflammation of the gums: treatment by the dentist

If thorough brushing of your teeth and possible home remedies and homeopathy don’t make the inflammation of the gums go away, you should go to the dentist. He will first clean all tooth surfaces and remove stubborn deposits that are not accessible to the patient. With hand instruments and ultrasound devices, he can also reach deep-seated plaque and gently remove it. He will then gently polish the tooth surfaces. This makes it harder for the bacteria to attach themselves there again.

If the gums are severely attacked or gum pockets have formed, the doctor will decide on the appropriate therapy in each individual case.

Gingivitis: examinations and diagnosis

The tooth type usually recognizes gingivitis with the naked eye . With the help of a probe, he tests the condition of the gums and checks whether periodontal pockets have formed. This is where bacteria like to settle. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, the gums bleed to varying degrees after being touched by the probe. Using these examinations, the dentist determines the periodontal screening index (PSI) . It is used for the early detection of diseases of the periodontium.

If the gingivitis has existed for a long time, an additional x-ray examination of the jaw is often useful. This helps in finding the cause and possible consequences. By examining the saliva , the doctor can also determine the types of bacteria in the mouth.

Gingivitis: course and prognosis

The prognosis for gingivitis is generally good. With careful dental care and oral hygiene, it heals in most cases after a few days. If left untreated, gingivitis can become chronic. In the worst case, this can even lead to periodontitis, i.e. inflammation of the entire periodontium. Over time, the gums recede, the teeth loosen and can fall out.

So that it doesn’t get that far in the first place, you should pay attention to thorough oral hygiene and go to the dentist regularly for check-ups. In this way, you can prevent gingivitis or identify and treat it at an early stage.

You may also like

Leave a Comment