What Should I Know About Gingivitis Treatment?

D. Jeffress

Gingivitis is a common condition in which the gums become swollen, irritated, and inflamed. The disease occurs when bacteria form a layer of plaque at the base of the teeth which eventually turns into a hard substance called tartar. Tartar irritates the gums and may cause them to ache, feel tender to the touch, and bleed during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis treatment usually involves a thorough cleaning of the mouth by a licensed dentist, followed by consistent oral hygiene practices at home. More detailed gingivitis treatment measures such as dental implants or surgical realignment of the teeth may be needed depending on the severity and cause of symptoms.

The teeth and gums should be cleaned regularly to help treat and prevent gingivitis.
The teeth and gums should be cleaned regularly to help treat and prevent gingivitis.

Most cases of gingivitis are caused by poor oral hygiene. Doctors stress the importance of brushing and flossing daily to remove plaque before it causes tartar build-up at the base of the teeth. Using tobacco products and eating sugary foods can also contribute to gingivitis. People who have hormonal imbalances, malformed teeth, or weakened immune systems due to chronic illnesses may experience the condition despite good oral hygiene and lifestyle choices.

The stages of periodontal disease, including gingivitis.
The stages of periodontal disease, including gingivitis.

A dentist will usually try to identify the cause of inflammation before administering gingivitis treatment. He or she will conduct a careful examination of gum tissue and ask about a patient's hygiene habits, tobacco use, and medical history. X-rays may be taken to check for abscesses and underlying tooth problems.

A woman getting a dental cleaning, which can help prevent gingivitis.
A woman getting a dental cleaning, which can help prevent gingivitis.

For mild cases of gingivitis, the dentist removes plaque and tartar using specialized tools, and treats infected gums with an antiseptic rinse. He or she usually encourages the patient to brush and floss regularly, avoid foods that can cause tooth decay, and abstain from tobacco use. The dentist may suggest an over-the-counter antiseptic mouth rinse to prevent new bacteria from forming plaque. With consistent gingivitis treatment at home, most cases clear up in a few weeks. If mouth problems persist despite following the dentist's orders, the patient may be prescribed oral antibiotics to combat bacteria and a topical analgesic to numb the pain.

For mild cases of gingivitis, a dentist can remove plaque and tartar from teeth using specialized tools.
For mild cases of gingivitis, a dentist can remove plaque and tartar from teeth using specialized tools.

If gingivitis is caused by misaligned teeth or an ill-fitting dental implant, the dentist will treat the condition accordingly. He or she may need to remove a badly damaged tooth or one that cuts into the gums and exposes the surrounding area to infection. The dentist can implant an artificial tooth or crown in the place of a bad tooth and treat the damaged gums with a topical antiseptic cream. Since there is no permanent gingivitis treatment, it is essential for a person to schedule regular checkups and take care of his or her teeth at home to prevent gum problems from reoccurring.

Gums that bleed after brushing might indicate gingivitis.
Gums that bleed after brushing might indicate gingivitis.
Using tobacco products can lead to gingivitis.
Using tobacco products can lead to gingivitis.
Regular flossing can help prevent gingivitis.
Regular flossing can help prevent gingivitis.
Mouthwash can help with the treatment of gingivitis.
Mouthwash can help with the treatment of gingivitis.
A dentists may take an x-ray to help determine the source of gum inflammation.
A dentists may take an x-ray to help determine the source of gum inflammation.

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