Likely Causes of Gum Inflammation

Gum inflammation can be both a painful and embarrassing condition. The most likely cause behind gum inflammation is a condition known as gingivitis. We’ve all seen the fear-inducing commercials for mouth wash that depict little green creatures laughing eerily while ravishing one’s gums—but what’s it really like? We are going to talk about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of gingivitis as well as the long-term results that gum inflammation can have on one’s teeth.

Gingivitis can produce varying symptoms depending on the severity of the condition, how long it has been growing unchecked, and what one’s oral hygiene routine is like. The most common symptom is swelling of the gums, which is a typical sign of inflammation. Bright redness or purple-tinted gums as well as pain in the teeth or gums are also symptoms indicative of gingivitis. In severe cases, one’s gums may bleed during gentle brushing or when chewing rough-textured foods. The gums might even appear abnormally shiny and bad breath can be a very persistent foe.

Gingivitis is most often caused by a buildup of a bacterial film, also known as plaque. When plaque gathers on the teeth, especially near the gums, bacteria from food can grow unhindered—and in fact sheltered—by the film of plaque. Eventually this bacteria will irritate the sensitive tissues within the gums leading to inflammation. As the gums swell, they can overlap onto and between the teeth, which can lead to further bacteria and plaque buildup becoming trapped within the gums.

In most mild cases, gingivitis is completely reversible, however in very severe or progressed cases of gingivitis, an irreversible and serious disease called periodontitis can develop. To treat the everyday case of gingivitis, one merely needs to take up a good oral hygiene routine. This includes gently brushing one’s teeth with a “total care” toothpaste and following that up with an anti-plaque mouth wash. It is also important to remember to floss. Flossing is the easiest and most effective way of removing bacteria and plaque from the hard to reach crevices where the teeth meet. Having a regular teeth cleaning by a dentist is another great way to prevent gingivitis. One cleaning every six months to a year is the recommended routine, but someone who is very prone to gingivitis outbreaks regardless of having a good hygiene routine should consider having a cleaning performed every four or five months.

Gingivitis is not the only thing that can cause gum inflammation, however. Brushing one’s teeth too hard or cutting the gums open by chewing on a foreign object or sharp foods, such as tortilla chips, can provide easy access for bacteria to enter the gums. When infection settles in by these means, brushing, using mouth wash, and flossing on a regular basis may not clear up the signs of infection quick enough. A dentist will be able to determine whether it is necessary to prescribe an antibiotic to help hinder the spread of bacteria. If antibiotics are prescribed, the patient must be sure to complete the full course of the medication. Many people make the mistake of stopping their antibiotic treatment after the pain has gone. This is a bad idea because even though the symptoms may be improving, the bacteria and white blood cells are still waging battle inside the body. If the antibiotics are stopped prematurely, the bacteria can regroup and spread again, leading to the renewal of inflammation.

Gum inflammation really is a common occurrence. At some point or another we all experience it, whether we are cutting in new teeth as children or experiencing the physical changes of puberty or pregnancy, there are many stages of life in which our immune system can slip up and allow the gums to become slightly inflamed. That being said, severe cases lasting more than a few weeks should be evaluated by a dentist to determine whether the gum inflammation is a result of a more severe condition.