Could I have gingivitis?
“I’ve noticed lately that I have swollen gums and they bleed when I brush them (I admit I haven’t seen a dentist in about five years). I’m only 25 – I couldn’t have gingivitis, could I?”
Question from Joanna, Coromandel Valley in Adelaide
Dr Tharaka Narayana replies:
Yes, you possibly could, but it’s best to come in for a dental check-up to determine this for sure.
Gingivitis is very prevalent. Many of us will experience this condition – mild inflammation of the gum – at least once in our lives.
Getting on top of it with preventive dental care is important in making sure it doesn’t progress to periodontal disease – which, worst case scenario, can result in someone losing their teeth.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, which is the weakening and loss of the supporting tissues around the teeth – simply, the gum and the bone that holds the teeth together.
It’s usually caused by the body’s response to the presence of bacteria.
What can I do about gingivitis?
For most patients with gingivitis, having regular preventive care – preventive cleaning that disrupts that plaque ecosystem – ensures that their teeth will be fine. Although they never get back the gum and bone they lost, it will stay stable.
Is gingivitis bacteria the same type of bacteria that causes tooth decay?
No, and this gets complex.
For gingivitis and gum disease to happen, you need an ecosystem of bacteria and the right conditions for it to survive. That’s why prevention comes back to cleaning your teeth.
Just think about an empty block of land. First, weeds will start to grow. Then some grass and, if you do nothing, some large plants. Once there are plants,then you might get insects. Then rats.
So, you know how it all started with grass, then an ecosystem built up?
It’s the same thing with gum disease – you need bacteria to change the condition under the gum, which allows the second bacteria to grow. Then they change the condition to allow the bad boys to come in! It can take only several months for this to happen and the ecosystem will be fully developed.
This is why, if you have advanced gum disease, you need to come in to the dentist every three to four months for a hygiene clean instead of the usual six month check-up.
Worried about your gingivitis?
It’s important to maintain check-ups every six months, as this is when we can treat gingivitis and prevent these early stages of gum disease. Call Shepherds Hill Dental Centre in Blackwood on 08 8278 6858 or book an appointment online.