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GINGIVITIS - What is that really?

Translated into English, GINGIVITIS means gum (Gingiva) inflammation (itis). What is the significance of this, why does it happen, and how do we take care of it? 

INFLAMMATION:

According to Webster's Dictionary, INFLAMMATION is a "local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, and pain and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue". So what does this mean? Our bodies in their innate wisdom become inflamed as a response to injury, or local irritants, in order to get rid of whatever is causing the injury or irritation, so that it (our body) can heal and become healthy again. We get an increase in blood flow to the area (which is why it gets red), heat in the area, and it also becomes painful, and often swollen. One thing that we know about inflammation in the body is that inflammation somewhere equals inflammation everywhere.

WHAT IS GINGIVITIS?

Gingivitis is gum inflammation. It is one of the early forms of gum disease and is most often caused by a build up of bacteria on the tooth surface near the gum line. Our mouths are full of bacteria, probably one of the "dirtiest" places in our body. Over the course of approximately 24 hours some of that bacteria will stick to the tooth surface and start to irritate the gumline. This sticky bacteria is called dental plaque. If we don't remove it or disrupt it on a daily basis it can stay there and start the process which becomes known as GINGIVITIS. Our gums get red, swollen, sometimes sore, and they tend to bleed easily when touched, brushed, or flossed. Gingivitis can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much a person neglects to remove the plaque. GINGIVITIS can also lead to BAD BREATH.

Did you know that GINGIVITIS is completely reversible? That means with the proper care, you can get rid of it and keep it away.

HOW DO WE TAKE CARE OF GINGIVITIS?

Because the bacteria that cause GINGIVITIS are present in our mouths all the time we can never totally eliminate the risk of developing it without some effort. There is no magic cure. I often think of the manangement of gum disease much like the management of Diabetes. If a person with Diabetes takes their insulin or medication every day as prescribed, watches their diet, excercises regularly, they can live a normal healthy life. If that same person does not take care of theses things, their Diabetes will get worse. Diabetics must take personal responsibility for the success of their treatment. Similarly with GINGIVITIS, there are things that we can do in the dental office to help maintain healthy gums, but perhaps of even greater importance is the personal homecare routine that a person must develop to help maintain their gums in a healthy state with no inflammation. Dedication to good homecare on a consistent daily basis is essential.

Studies done over the last 15 years show a very strong connection between inflammation in the body and other medical diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, low birth weight babies, and even cancer. This is why we as dental professionals "NAG" our patients to floss and brush daily. The key word here is DAILY. I have had patients come to my office and tell me how they floss religiously every other day. These people never quite get on top of the inflammatory process because on the "off" day they are allowing the plaque bacteria to do some damage. On the other end of the spectrum, some people come in and tell me that they floss 4 or 5 times a day. ... Every time they snack, drink, sneeze, speak, ... they are flossing. I don't discourage this, but it is really not necessary to floss that often. I hope that I have helped to clarify the condition called GINGIVITIS, and created some understanding as to its importance.

Dr. Marty Frankel - Smiles by Design
3030 - 3080 Yonge St.
Toronto, Ontario M4N 3N1

416-770-8526

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