Gingivitis: Treatments in Singapore plus How One Celebrity Struggled with Gum Disease
A celebrity with gum disease? How unlikely!
No, celebrities are humans like everyone else after all. Their bodies are not invincible to health conditions and diseases. This is what actress and one of The View talk show hosts, Whoopi Goldberg shared to her audience back in 2016. Goldberg revealed that she has “let her mouth go” for years and was now paying the price as a consequence of developing gum disease or gingivitis. She further shared the worst thing that can happen when gingivitis is not taken seriously—the disease can progress into periodontitis, which affects the jawbone and can cause permanent loss of teeth.
Gingivitis does not only affect the mouth. It can influence the body’s overall health, too. This article discusses how this could happen and the different gingivitis treatments available that can help save your gums and teeth. Dr Marlene Teo, an expert periodontist in Singapore, shares her knowledge in this post.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is gum inflammation caused by a bacterial infection. It is seen as a mild form of gum disease that is still curable. Progression of this disease can lead to periodontitis, which is a more serious form of gum disease that can cause deeply infected and weakened gums, resulting in teeth loss.
How does gingivitis develop?
Gingivitis begins to develop when bacterial plaque is present on the teeth. This bacterial plaque is composed of protein from the saliva and bacteria. It is a sticky film that coats the outer surface of the teeth. When the bacterial plaque that clings to the teeth is not cleaned and removed, it hardens beneath the gum line and turns to tartar. Tartar creates protection over the bacterial plaque in the gum line, which makes the removal of plaque more difficult. Because the bacteria are still present, the gum line begins to be irritated. If both plaque and tartar are not removed immediately, the longer they stay results in gum inflammation (gingivitis).
What are the factors that can cause the development of gingivitis?
Anyone at any age can develop gingivitis. The following are the factors that can heighten the risk of developing this gum disease:
- Ageing (especially in elders)
- Changes in hormones (e.g. pregnancy, use of birth control pills)
- Chewing or smoking tobacco
- Dry mouth
- Medical conditions that compromise the body’s immunity (e.g. HIV/AIDS, cancer)
- Medications for angina and high blood pressure that blocks calcium, as well as drugs prescribed for epileptic seizures (phenytoin)
- Nutrient deficiency
- Poor dental hygiene
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Viral and fungal infections
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
The following are the symptoms of gingivitis to look out for:
- Abscesses (pus) found in the gums
- Bad breath that does not go away
- Gum recession
- Gums that bleed easily when the teeth are brushed or flossed
- Gums that look red and sore
- Loose, separating teeth
- Pain in the gums and teeth
- Thick plaque present on the teeth’s surface
What are the available treatments for gingivitis?
Treatments done to the teeth and gums will depend on the severity of its condition. Removal of plaque and tartar cannot be done by simply brushing the teeth. Due to its hard nature, tartar needs to be removed by a professional dental cleaning. The following treatments can be done:
- Polishing – removal of stains and plaque from the teeth’s root surface
- Root planing (deep cleaning) – done to remove bacterial plaques and rough tartar that are entrenched deep into the gums and teeth separation is already present. This procedure is usually done with local anaesthesia.
- Scaling – removal of tartar from the top and underneath the gum line.
Often times the development of tartar is at places that are challenging to reach. If the gums continue to exhibit symptoms of gingivitis even after the initial dental cleaning, your dentist may recommend for you to undergo periodontal (gum) surgery. This is usually done when significant separation is noticeable between the teeth and gums (deep pockets). The surgery allows full access to the depth of the infection in the tissue beneath the gums by folding the gums to form a flap. Removal of the infected tissue is then done and is followed by scaling and root planing to completely get rid of bacterial plaque underneath the gumline.
Can gingivitis be prevented?
Yes, gingivitis can definitely be prevented. For starters, ensure that you develop a habit of brushing and flossing your teeth daily. If you know that you have a higher risk of getting gingivitis, keeping your teeth plaque-free is your top priority. Also, it is recommended to schedule your visits to the dentist for a routine check-up at least once or twice a year. By doing so, your teeth and gums can be checked whether symptoms of diseases are present. If you have existing gum disease or conditions, a more frequent interval of visits to your dentist should be done. Smokers are advised to quit this bad habit in order to allow the gums to heal completely.
Dr Marlene Teo
360 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07 next to Lido,
International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 8588 9868