Gingivitis is also known as gum disease or periodontal disease. It describes a series of events that start with the growth of bacteria in your mouth. If not properly and quickly treated, it may end with you losing your tooth or teeth due to the severe destruction of tissues around your teeth.
Gingivitis is actually an inflammation of the gums and it usually comes before periodontitis. However, it does not follow that any case of gingivitis will be followed by periodontitis.
During the early stages of gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen due to bacteria in the plaque. It is not uncommon to bleed while brushing your teeth during this stage. Even though irritation of the gums may be experienced, the teeth will remain firmly implanted in their sockets.
If gingivitis is untreated in its early stages, chances of it advancing to periodontitis are very high. Periodontitis is characterized by the inner layer of gum and bone pulling away from the teeth to form pockets. The small spaces between the teeth gums usually collect debris mainly from food. This debris can become infected by bacteria. As the body’s immune system fights the bacteria, the plaque will spread and grow below the gum line.
There are also toxins that are produced by the bacteria in plaque as well as the action of enzymes that fight the infections. These toxins and poisons usually break down the connective tissue and bone that hold the teeth in position. As the diseases progress, the pockets become deeper and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. This makes the teeth to become lose and they may begin to fall out. This is usually the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The number one cause of gum disease is plaque. However, this is not the only cause of periodontal diseases. Other factors include:
The gums usually become more sensitive during hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty and menstruation. This makes it much easier for gingivitis to develop. Diseases may also affect your gums’ conditions. This is mainly the case with diseases that affect your immune system such as HIV and cancer. Patients suffering from diabetes also have a high risk of getting gingivitis because the disease affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar. Some forms of medication can also bring about gum disease as they affect the flow of saliva in the mouth.
Habits like smoking make it hard for gum tissue to repair itself.
Poor oral hygiene habits like not brushing your teeth and not flossing daily create the necessary conditions for the development of gingivitis.
If you are from a family that has a history of dental diseases, you may also develop gingivitis.