Wednesday, May 4, 2011



Gingivitis (gingiva: gums,-itis: inflammation) is a form of periodontal disease in which the gums around the teeth become inflamed and swollen. Gingivitis is commonly due to plaque (sticky bacteria and food) and tartar (hardened plaque) on the teeth. The bacteria and toxins they produce cause the gums to become infected, swollen, tender, and bleed.
 Because gingivitis can be very mild, you may not be aware that you have the condition. But it's important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it promptly. Gingivitis can lead to much more serious gum disease (periodontitis) and eventual tooth loss.

Why do I care if my teeth are crooked?

You are no longer as young as you used to be. You are past that age when everyone around you wanted to wear braces. Does it really matter that your teeth are crooked?  Is it all about looks, or there is more to it?
According to the study done by the researchers at United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, London, UK and Dental School,   there is a relationship between irregularity of  teeth and periodontal disease.
The study involved 201 children aged 11-14 years. The upper and lower incisor teeth were evaluated  for spacing, degree of crowding and overlapping. The researchers found that there was a direct relationship between the number of  contacts of teeth out of alignment and teeth overlapping each other (a more severe crowding) and a number of sites with redness of the gums. The study concluded that the results indicate that overlapping of incisor teeth is directly related to gingivitis, and this relationship cannot be explained simply by an effect of oral hygiene.

So now you have red gums that bleed.  So what?  May be your parents had bleeding gums, may be their parents had bleeding gums. Nothing new there.  You think to yourself  it is your genes.  Never mind that you do not floss, and may be brushing once or twice a week. It is your genes and there is nothing you can do about it.  It is genes’ fault and they are the ones to blame.
But that is not what this post is about.  Usually red and bleeding gums indicate that what you have, and your parents and grandparents have (or had, if they have no teeth left)  is gingivitis or inflammation of  gums.  According to the American Academy of Periodontology,  and I quote “ Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis and eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems.”
Now,  that is more than just looks.  Of course, there are other factors that could cause gingivitis,  periodontal disease and bone loss.  Let’s not forget about dental plaque.   But that is a topic for a different discussion that I will address at another time. This post, however,   is about crowding,  and how it may be related to gingivitis, potential periodontitis and subsequent bone and tooth loss.  And if you believe that crowding may lead to gingivitis,  periodontitis and bone loss,  you should be wondering  by now what , if anything,  you can  do about it.
Of course you can,  if suddenly feeling much younger,  join the crowd of  those who are looking forward to wearing those status setting metal brackets. On the other hand,   if you  think  you are mature enough to join the other crowd, then you might settle for something less obvious but, in my opinion more attractive, called Invisalign.

There are several possible causes for gum recession:
  • Abnormal tooth position, such as tooth crowding, giving inadequate cover of one or more teeth by the jaw bone.[1]
  • Hereditary thin, fragile or insufficient gingival tissue.[1]
  • Overaggressive brushing,[1] which causes the enamel at the gum line to be worn away by scrubbing the sides of the teeth in a washboard fashion
  • Periodontal disease[1]
  • Inadequate brushing or flossing, which allows bacteria to build up between the teeth, resulting in enzymes eating the bone away from the teeth
  • Eating disorders, from self-induced vomiting.
  • Grinding of the teeth (bruxism)
  • Intentional gingival retraction. For example, the adult tooth may not grow out of the gum, and to remedy this, a procedure called an exposure is done. It involves the gum tissue being cut open to allow the adult tooth to grow out. This is a less common cause of gum recession.

Dangers of gum infection

The immediate danger of gum infections is of course the threat to your oral health, and the potential for loss of teeth if it is not remedied in time. However, more and more research points to other serious health conditions that can arise from the entry of these harmful oral bacteria to the blood stream. You may not notice the effects on the rest of your body at first, but recent studies have linked gum infections to conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory disease
  • Premature births

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