- Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
- What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
- What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
- What causes gingivitis?
- What are the risk factors and complications of gingivitis?
- How is gingivitis diagnosed and treated?
- Can gingivitis be prevented?
- How to practice good oral hygiene
- Some more information on gum disease
What causes gingivitis?
Poor dental hygiene is the most commonly seen cause of gingivitis as this encourages the formation of plaque on the teeth, resulting in the gum tissues becoming inflamed.
The following explains how plaque can cause gingivitis:
- Plaque forming on the teeth – Plaque is a sticky, invisible coating on your teeth that consists mainly of bacteria. Plaque forms when sugars and starches in the food you eat interact with the bacteria that naturally resides in your mouth. This plaque will need to be removed daily as it quickly reforms on a daily basis.
- Plaque turning into tartar – If plaque is not cleaned off of your teeth, it will stay on them and may harden under your gum lining and form into tartar, this is easily recognisable as it will be brown or yellow in colour on the teeth. Tartar is also known as calculus and is basically the hardened build-up of plaque that was not removed. This will then begin to collect more bacteria and make it difficult for the plaque to be removed as it creates a protective coating or shield for the bacteria, which results in your gum line becoming irritated. You will need to undergo professional cleaning by your dentist or an oral hygienist in order for the tartar to be removed.
- Gingiva becoming inflamed (this is when gingivitis occurs) – When tartar and plaque are not removed and remain on your teeth, the more likely they are to irritate your gums (gingiva), specifically the area of your gums that surrounds the base of the teeth. This irritation is what causes inflammation. Over time, your gums may become red and swollen and may also bleed easily when brushing your teeth or eating. Tooth decay, known as dental caries, may also be a result of this infection. When gingivitis is left untreated, then this may progress to periodontitis or even tooth loss.
**My Med Memo: Plaque and tartar are two different substances. Plaque is the colourless, sticky coating that forms on your teeth and consists mainly of bacteria and food debris.
Plaque can be easily removed by brushing your teeth twice a day. Plaque can cause issues such as cavities when the acids that it produces attack the teeth and gums.
Tartar is a hard, non-sticky deposit that creates a rough surface on your teeth which allows for bacteria to easily latch on. Plaque hardens and develops into tartar. Tartar consists mainly of mineral deposits from your saliva and is only able to be removed by your dentist or an oral hygienist, otherwise, it may lead to periodontal disease.