What Is Gum Disease?

August 21, 2013 General 0 Comments

What Is Gum Disease?Even those with the best oral hygiene habits can be victims of gum disease. Gingivitis, or the inflammation of the gums, can be caused by changes in hormone levels or misaligned teeth – as well as poor dental hygiene and infection.

If you are interested in pursuing a Dental Assistant diploma program, it is important to familiarize yourself with this common periodontal disease.

Causes and Risk Factors

Gingivitis is caused by long-term plaque deposits on your teeth. Plaque is made up of bacteria, mucus, and food particles, and when it develops it sticks to exposed parts of your teeth. If a dental hygienist does not remove your plague, it turns into tartar. Tartar is a hard deposit that sits at the base of your tooth.

Plague and tartar expose your teeth to bacteria and other toxins, causing irritation and inflammation. The bacteria are infectious, resulting in swelling and tenderness.

If the following factors are applicable to you, then you may be at risk for gingivitis:

  • Certain whole-body infections or diseases
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Incorrect fillings
  • Ill-fitting or unclean braces, dentures, bridges or crowns
  • Certain medications (such as phenytoin, bismuth and birth control pills)

Many people have some amount of gingivitis. It may be persistent or infrequent, depending on your oral hygiene habits and the health of your teeth and gums.

Symptoms and Treatment

People suffering from gum disease may experience:

  • Bleeding gums or blood on toothbrush
  • Gums that are bright red, red-purple, or shiny
  • Tenderness
  • Mouth sores
  • Swelling

After a dentist or hygienist professionally cleans your teeth, bleeding and tenderness should lessen within one to two weeks. You must maintain strict oral hygiene to reduce the presence of bacteria and prevent the recurrence of gingivitis.

Unaddressed, gingivitis may spread to the supporting structures of your teeth. You may suffer from periodontitis, gums or jaw bone infection, or even trench mouth.

Learn more about gingivitis and other periodontal diseases – and how you can help people prevent them – at Missouri College.


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