How to recognize and treat gingivitis properly

How to recognize and treat gingivitis properly

If you suffer from red gums that hurt or appear swollen, it is often caused by gingivitis. Bleeding gums or a sensitive reaction to touch also indicates that the gums are inflamed. In this case, it is essential to recognize and treat the gingivitis as such in good time. Otherwise, if it occurs chronically, it can lead to periodontitis over time, i.e. to inflammation of the entire periodontium and gum recession. How to correctly interpret the symptoms and treat the inflammation is explained below.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis – also known medically as gingivitis – is a bacterial infection of the gums. Inflammation, unlike periodontitis, can be cured and occurs occasionally in most people. It is widespread, and often the symptoms are only mild, so many sufferers of gingivitis are not even aware of it.

Gingivitis only affects the gums, while in periodontitis, the entire periodontium is inflamed and causes gum recession that can no longer be reversed. Those affected often cannot tell the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis. However, since gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, timely clarification is critical.


Gingivitis often goes undetected.

Inflammation of the gums makes itself felt in many different ways: swollen gums under pressure are usually a sure sign of the infection – but they are often only accompanied by slight bleeding of the gums or barely noticeable redness.

However, paying attention to precisely these symptoms and reacting in time is essential. Otherwise, the inflamed gums can soon become the cause of periodontitis.

How do you recognize gingivitis?

To treat it in time, recognizing the gingivitis in time is of the highest priority. Healthy gums appear slightly pink and only bleed if you brush your teeth too vigorously. It completely encloses the tooth towards the interspace.

On the other hand, inflamed gums are noticeable through the following symptoms :

  • swollen areas
  • intense redness
  • Pain or pressure in the affected areas
  • light touches lead to bleeding gums

These symptoms usually indicate that the gingivitis is still relatively recent and not too advanced. If the infection is detected at this stage, the symptoms can be controlled with simple means and patience.


Advanced stage symptoms

However, if the redness, swelling or gum pain during daily oral hygiene is not recognized as gingivitis, the infection can spread further and become chronic inflammation.

Advanced gingivitis can be associated with these characteristics:


What to do with gingivitis?

Because gingivitis is a bacterial infection, thorough and regular oral hygiene is crucial for successful treatment.

As a first step, you should exchange your toothbrush for a new or unused one with bristles that are as soft as possible. This protects the gums despite better hygiene to avoid bleeding.

Interdental brushes and dental floss can also be used as a helpful remedy against gingivitis after thorough brushing of teeth, which – used in combination – reach all spaces between the teeth and the areas behind the last molar and wisdom tooth better than most toothbrushes.

Thorough and regular plaque removal is the top priority for successfully treating gingivitis.

A gentle mouthwash can be used to kill bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for the infection. This should have an antibacterial effect but without alcohol. Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, the mouthwash can be used in the morning and evening after oral hygiene.

Visiting the dentist is essential.

Despite the mentioned remedies against gingivitis and thorough oral hygiene, one should not neglect to go to the dentist with the bacterial infection. In worse cases, he can prescribe necessary antibiotics and medication and ensure that the oral cavity no longer offers the bacteria a breeding ground.

This happens, for example, through:

  • the removal of tartar
  • Professional tooth cleaning, during which all deposits are removed and the periodontal pockets – in which plaque and bacteria like to collect – are thoroughly cleaned
  • caries prophylaxis
  • recommending further action 

Anyone prone to frequent gingivitis should take advantage of professional tooth cleaning at the dentist twice a year as a preventive measure. The costs for this have to be borne by the health insurance company (sometimes free of charge once a year), but this is an effective measure to prevent gingivitis and, thus, periodontitis in the long term. 


What medications for gingivitis?

Only the treating doctor can decide which antibiotic is suitable for severe gingivitis. However, antibiotics are only used to combat gingivitis if the infection has not disappeared after several days. 

Alternatively, an antibiotic ointment from the pharmacy can help soothe the inflamed area by fighting pathogens.

The first treatment is often an antiseptic mouthwash. These often contain the active ingredients chlorhexidine (for example, in Chlorhexamed®), hexetidine (for example, in Hexoral®) or povidone-iodine (as in Betaisadona® mouth antiseptic). If chlorhexidine is to be used for more than ten days, one should resort to low-concentration agents; otherwise, side effects such as changes in taste and tooth discolouration can occur.

How long does gingivitis last?

Inflammation of the gums usually lasts from several days to a week. If the inflammation lasts longer, a visit to the dentist is considered unavoidable.

Do home remedies help with gingivitis?

Chamomile tea is a well-known home remedy for all oral cavity problems, especially gingivitis. However, this should not be drunk but, at best, gargled properly. Chamomile is a successful remedy for gingivitis as it quickly disinfects and relieves pain.

Another natural remedy is apple cider vinegar, which, diluted with a bit of water, can be used as a homemade mouthwash for rinsing.


Alternative Treatment: What Helps?

What do you do against gingivitis? Medication and good oral hygiene are not the only answers to this question for many people. Finally, homoeopathic remedies and other natural remedies should also help against the inflammation in the mouth. These are mostly essential oils, globules, herbs and the like.

Medicines such as cloves and globules are said to help fight inflammation of the gums naturally and, at the same time, relieve pain in the mouth. Various herbal ingredients stimulate the healing of badly damaged gums and thus also represent an effective remedy against the inflammation.

Under no circumstances should these agents replace the required oral hygiene. In severe or advanced cases, dental treatment – ​​possibly with medication – is also urgently advisable.

What helps against gingivitis in children?

Oral hygiene can easily be forgotten in everyday life, especially in children, which can then lead to the occurrence of gingivitis. You don’t have to resort to medication like Chlorhexamed® right away, but you should first try cleaning your teeth consistently and thoroughly. Not only do the teeth themselves have to be brushed well, but the child should also use dental floss.

If you pay attention to thorough cleaning right from the start and if you help in the event of infection in good time, nothing stands in the way of the optimal oral cavity health of the child for later life.

Possible causes of gingivitis

Several factors can cause gingivitis. Most often, however, the causes have a bacterial origin that triggers the infection:

  • Poor oral hygiene that allows plaque to build up and provides a good place for bacteria and pathogens to live and multiply
  • Gum injuries also make it easy for bacteria to cause infection – wounds make ideal nesting sites.
  • Hormonal changes caused by medication, pregnancy or as a result of stress can also cause physical changes in the gums, making them more susceptible to infections.


Gingivitis in pregnancy

The hormonal changes during pregnancy change the female body and the oral cavity – even if this only occurs in about one-tenth of all pregnant women.

The hormonal changes can be responsible for more acidic saliva and its increased production, promoting tooth decay and bacterial infections such as gingivitis. Because the gums are supplied with more blood during pregnancy, bleeding gums are more common in pregnant women. 

Inflammation of the gums can also be recognized during pregnancy by the symptoms already mentioned – which is why it is essential to have regular check-ups at the dentist to treat infections in good time. You can use a mild mouthwash and a soft toothbrush to prevent this during pregnancy.


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