A gum infection takes place when plaque builds up in the mouth and the bacteria spreads to the gums and causes inflammation, irritation and red and swollen gums. Known as gingivitis it is an extremely mild form of a complex gum disease called periodontitis. A gum infection may not seem like much at first but if you notice the signs of an infection you should contact a dentist before the problem advances.
There are several symptoms associated with gum infections that you should be on the lookout for including bad breath, bleeding gums, fatigue, fever, loose teeth, pain, a receding gum line, reddish gums, a sour taste, and swollen glands.
The main cause of infected gums is bacteria because they are present in huge numbers which might cause your breath to smell bad. If your teeth bleed as you brush them, then you are also probably suffering from gum infection. This is because your gums are already inflamed and sensitive to bleeding while brushing or flossing.
Fever can be a rare gum infection symptom if it is in its initial stages and you may also experience fatigue and a general feeling of sickness. When the infection advances you may discover loose teeth because a gum infection eats away the surface of the gums so the support structure of the teeth may become weakened. If not treated, the teeth may become loose and may even fall out.
Pain is another major symptom of infected gums. In most cases, it is continuous and you will find it extremely discomforting. While pain is common, not everyone suffering from a gum infection may feel it and some may feel it only when chewing food. If you are experiencing pain, your gums will probably be soft and tender, however, the pain wont just be because your gums ache. Even the tooth near that gum will seem to hurt, particularly when something touches it. The pain can also worsen when eating hot or cold foods and drinks. While certain medications can reduce the pain, its always best to see your dentist no matter what the intensity of the pain is.
Another common sign of infected gums is a receding gum line. The infection pulls the gum and a gap appears between them and the teeth. Because of this your teeth may seem to be longer and you may notice that small pockets have formed around your teeth that also appear inflamed. Swollen and red gums are a common symptom of gum infection too. Compared to the rest of your gums, which will appear to be pink and firm, the infected area will be extremely red, tender and will have swollen up. If the infection is severe, there may be a purplish hue to it as well.
A gum infection makes it difficult to chew hard food so your mouth will taste sour for most of the time and the lymph glands in your neck may swell up which will be visible even on the outside.
Treating Gum Infections
If you already have a gum infection it is extremely important to address the problem immediately. You should always seek the help of a dentist as soon as you see the earliest signs of infection. Gum infections in their early stages can be treated with inexpensive and non-invasive procedures, however, the right treatment can only be decided after proper oral examination by a dentist. The treatment also depends on the type of infection you have - cavities and abscesses, irritated and inflamed gums or gum diseases such as gingivitis.
Irritation and inflammation are the mildest forms of gum infection and are usually caused by food particles between the teeth and gum line. These symptoms are caused by not brushing regularly or improper brushing and if left untreated can turn into cavities and causes abscesses. Gingivitis is the final stage of gum infection when it turns into a disease. Gum disease treatment depends on the severity, cause and condition of the gum infection.
Scaling, Antibiotics And Surgery
Scaling is a professional deep cleaning of the teeth and gums. It is a non-invasive treatment using proper instruments and abrasive toothpaste and is performed by a qualified dentist who will remove bacteria, plaque, debris and tartar. While mild infections are treated in a visit to the dentists office, severe ones can require a number of visits.
Sometimes the infection can be caused by another disease that has temporarily weakened your body's own defense mechanism and it is up to your dentist to identify the root cause of the infection. If antibodies are the reason behind your infection, your dentist might try to solve the problem with the help of antibiotics rather than any clinical procedure. If the infection is ignored long enough and turns into a disease, a non-invasive treatment wont be enough. Diseases like periodontitis can only be cured with proper gum surgeries that focus on rebuilding and regenerating the tissues.
Minor gum infections can be treated at home. Gargle and rinse your mouth with a cup of warm water containing half a teaspoon of salt. Use clove oil to soothe the irritation and inflammation in the gums. Dissolve a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in water and rub on the infected area. Use a medicated toothpaste and mouthwash specifically designed for the purpose. While these remedies can make you feel better, they can never be an alternative for a proper diagnosis and treatment recommended by a dentist. Make sure you are receiving proper dental care to stop more severe gum disease such as periodontitis.
Preventing Gum Infections
Plaque contains bacteria that increase the acidity in your mouth, which damages your gum tissues. As a result, inflammation may occur. The best way to avoid any gum infections is to follow a great oral hygiene program. Always brush your teeth after every meal or at least two times a day to remove plaque buildup around your teeth and gums.
In order to ensure that your teeth are thoroughly cleaned, put some toothpaste on your brush and use one which does not contain fluoride. Place the brush at an angle of 45 degrees. Using circular motions move the brush over a single surface at a time. Do not use hard or rough strokes because it will damage the surrounding tissues and lead to infection. Brush all of your teeth and ensure that the bristles reach the farthest corner and the smallest crevices. For brushing the inner side of the front teeth, you will have to change direction of your brush to 90 degrees, however, the strokes will still be circular. Brush your tongue as well to remove the bacteria, and change your tooth brush at least once every four months.
You should also floss your teeth once every day so that bacteria can be removed from places where your brush cannot reach. Wrap the floss around your middle finger of both hands. Leave about an inch of space in between. Floss the upper teeth first and then the lower. Put the floss inside your mouth, and push it gently between the teeth. Do this gently so that your tissues are not damaged. Try to form a C shape around your tooth as you floss.
Besides a oral hygiene regimen, you should also eat right, exercise regularly and avoid items that are bad for the teeth and gums such as cigarettes, alcohol caffeine and tea.
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