Gum disease

May 2017


Definition


Gum disease affects the mucosa located at the base of the teeth, which is typically pink in appearance. Different conditions can affect the gums, but the most common is gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums caused by germs or bacteria that enter at the root of the tooth. Gingivitis is triggered by plaque consisting of bacteria, mucus, and food, is formed continuously and can be removed by regular tooth brushing. Gingivitis is more common in people with certain medical conditions such as a decreased immune system or diabetes. A particular form of gingivitis is encountered during an initial contact with the herpes virus: herpetic gingivostomatitis.

Symptoms


Gingivitis occurs as follows:
  • reddening of the gums;
  • gingival swelling;
  • easy bleeding upon contact, often while brushing teeth;
  • bad breath;
  • a change in color towards black gums, a sign of necrosis or cell death in the absence of treatment;
  • mobility or loosening of teeth in some extreme cases.

In the case of herpetic gingivostomatitis, gums are covered with a whitish coating on a red background with small gray elevations. Fever and pain that can sometimes lead to the inability to eat are common.

Diagnosis


Gingivitis is diagnosed by observing the physical signs mentioned above. The dentist distinguishes a bacterial infection from the herpes virus by observing the nature of the inflammation of the gums.

Treatment


Gum disease is treated by thorough brushing and the use of anti-tartar toothpaste. It is also recommended to use mouthwash with an antiseptic base that controls bacterial growth in advanced cases of gingivitis. However, if the plaque persists and becomes tartar, only a dentist can remove it. In the case of herpetic gingivostomatitis, an intravenous acyclovir treatment is necessary.

Prevention


It is strongly recommended to brush your teeth regularly. Visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning and scraping are recommended every year or every six months.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff. Latest update on July 1, 2013 at 01:15 PM by Jeff.
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