Infected Gums Are Easy to Avoid

Apr 30, 2016
Gum disease is a common ailment that is often the result of poor oral hygiene. Also known as gingivitis, this condition is recognized by inflammation of the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth. It can range from minor to very severe. Symptoms of gingivitis include soreness, red and swollen gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing. Discomfort can result from gingivitis, some other periodontal disease, or both.


Gingivitis develops when an abundance of harmful bacteria thrives in the mouth due to lingering debris on tooth surfaces. The result is the formation of damaging plaque, which later hardens and becomes tartar. Plaque is easily removed by regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing. Tartar needs to be removed by a hygienist or other dental professional.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is present below the gums. This is the result of the underlying bone becoming infected. If bacteria-rich plaque and tartar aren’t removed, the gum infection will continue to worsen. This will cause gingivitis. As time goes on without treatment, the damage will progress and inflammation will travel to the bone, resulting in periodontal disease. Infected bones recede away from the teeth causing the formation of deep pockets in the gums. These open areas are gathering places for plaque and bacteria. At this stage, it is hard to practice effective oral hygiene. The pockets are too difficult to keep clean and bone loss is likely to continue. Late stage periodontal disease ends in severe bone and tooth loss.

What Causes Gum Disease?

The biggest culprit is bacteria present in plaque and tartar, caused by a lack of proper dental care. However, there are additional factors that can increase the chances of developing gum disease.
  • Smokers and chewing tobacco users are at risk. Use also hinders healing.
  • Crooked and misaligned teeth present more areas for the hidden plaque. Overlapping teeth are harder to keep clean.
  • Hormone changes can trigger a rise in gingivitis by causing blood vessels in the gums to become more susceptible to bacteria.
  • Cancer and the treatments that go along with it, can make a person more at risk of gum disease.
  • Alcohol use lowers natural defenses.
  • Stress can also lower our bodies defense mechanisms against bacteria.
  • Nutrient deficiency and a diet high in sugars and carbs will increase plaque formation.
  • Diabetes can cause a decrease in circulation and hinder healing.
  • Certain medications list gum disease as a common side effect.

Treatment for Gingivitis

Usually, improved oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings are all it takes to eliminate the symptoms of gingivitis. If more complex health issues are the cause, medical treatment is needed to address each problem before gum disease can be reversed. After a thorough cleaning by a dentist or hygienist, patients are able to eradicate gingivitis with daily maintenance.

Periodontal Disease Treatment

When gingivitis has advanced to periodontal disease, deep scaling, and root planing will be necessary to clean out the infected pockets. Surgery may be performed to access all areas for more thorough cleaning. Antibiotic therapy is also used in the form of mouthwash, pellets that go directly into the pockets or gels. Pocket reduction surgery may be required as well. This will make it easier for the patient to keep the teeth and gums clean.