GINGIVA in simple terms is GUM – the pink portion that overlaps the teeth.
Gingiva or gums is the connective tissue that holds the teeth in place. It is overlaid with mucous membrane. Babies are born with gum pads, out of which teeth start growing around the sixth month. The gums then retreat to form tight scallops over the teeth.
GINGIVITIS is the inflammation of the gums. It is characterized by swelling, redness, tenderness, irritation, halitosis (bad breath) and in severe cases bleeding gums.
Gingivitis in its milder form can be diagnosed and handled by a regular dentist. Serious gingivitis is referred to a PERIODONTIST, a dentist who specializes in treating gingiva or gum-related diseases.
Causes for Gingivitis
- Poor oral health is the most common cause.
- Eating habits (viz) more sugar and less nutrients.
- Old age causes the gums to recede, leaving them prone to infection.
- Certain medications like epilepsy drugs.
- Certain medical conditions like diabetes.
- Compromised immunity levels.
Prevention of Gingivitis:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gum disease. Oral hygiene includes brushing twice a day (morning and night) with fluoride-based toothpaste for at least two minutes each and flossing – preferably at night.
- Rinsing with mouthwash helps avoid plaque build-up. For the mouthwash to work effectively, remember not to eat or drink anything within half an hour of rinsing.
- Rinsing a couple of times thoroughly after every meal, by directing water to every corner of the mouth to remove food particles.
- Cutting down on sticky and sugary foods like sweets and pastries, and beverages like soft and fizzy drinks.
- Visiting the dentist regularly. Make your annual dental appointment a non-negotiable part of your medical check-up routine.
Treatment of Gingivitis:
- Gingivitis is treated through professional dental cleaning called Scaling and Root Planing performed by a dentist. Scaling is the process of removing plaque from the gum line, and root planing helps tissues realign with the teeth.
- Untreated gingivitis can progress to Periodontitis and severe periodontitis to tooth loss. Initial stages of periodontitis are treated with antibiotics, cleaning and removal of calculus while advanced stages may require surgery.
Studies suggest that nearly 32% of the world’s population doesn’t floss, which explains why almost 90% are affected by gingivitis. Mouth hygiene is generally understood as meant principally for the teeth, their cleanness, whiteness, alignment and strength.
A stringent routine of flossing during every brushing schedule and rinsing after every meal ensures that the gums stay as healthy as the teeth.