If your gums are inflamed and swollen it can be quite painful, and should not be ignored. Often, this is an indicator that a more serious problem exists, and early treatment is the key to a more positive outcome. If you are experiencing inflamed, swollen, or sore gums, contact Kane & Kerper Family & Cosmetic Dentistry right away for evaluation and treatment.
What causes gum inflammation?
One of the most common causes of sore, inflamed gums is periodontal disease. This is a common condition that occurs when the bacteria in the mouth begins to damage the gum tissue. This bacteria grows in the coating of plaque that naturally forms on teeth over time. While this coating is usually removed during brushing, improper brushing technique can cause some of this plaque to be left behind. When not brushed away, this plaque hardens into tartar, which provides a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and as a result your gums are inflamed.
There are two main stages of periodontal disease. The first stage is known as gingivitis, and the symptoms are usually mild. The gums may become red and swollen, and in many cases will begin to bleed easily. This usually occurs during brushing. Gingivitis doesn’t usually result in pain, which may make it tempting to ignore the condition; however, if untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more severe stage of periodontal disease.
More severe gum disease is known as periodontitis. When plaque and tartar are allowed to continue to build up along the gum line, the gums can begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. These pockets can become infected. Over time, this infection combined with your body’s natural immune response can begin to damage the gum, bone, and connective tissues that hold your teeth in place. If this condition is allowed to continue your teeth will become loose and may eventually fall out or have to be extracted.
How is gum inflammation treated?
If your periodontal disease is mild, a simple deep cleaning may be enough to relieve your symptoms. During this treatment, our dentist will gently scrape the tartar from the teeth and below the gum line. This is known as scaling. A process known as root planing with then be used to smooth rough spots from the tooth root, removing any bacteria from the root and making it more difficult for germs to stick to the root in the future. In some cases, a dental laser may be used during this process.
If your periodontal disease has progressed and is more severe, you may require surgical treatment in order to remove the tartar and build up from the deep pockets that have formed in the gums. This will involve lifting the gums and removing the tartar, and then suturing them back into place so that the gum tissue once again sits snugly around the tooth. If you have experienced any bone or gum loss, you may require grafting in order to replace these lost elements.
In either case, you will likely also be given medications to help treat and prevent any further infection from occurring. In some cases, the use of medication may even be used to avoid the possibility of having surgery following a deep cleaning. These medications may include oral antibiotics, antiseptic chips (used to shrink periodontal pockets), or enzyme suppressants.