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Author: Brian Wu PhD. MD Candidate, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA; Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, November 2015.
The gingiva are the gums, the visible mucosa around teeth. Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gingiva, and is common. It is a mild form of periodontitis, which means inflammation of all the tissues surrounding the teeth, and is less common.
Periodontitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease affecting the gingiva, ligaments and the underlying alveolar bone. Periodontitis can lead to soft tissue damage as well as loss of teeth and destruction of the bone.
Patients with gingivitis present with:
Patients with the more advanced periodontitis may present with:
The main causes of gingivitis are:
The build-up of tartar leads to periodontitis. The tartar irritates the gingiva and forms pockets that fill with bacteria, plaque and tartar. Subsequent infection can be serious.
Risk factors for gingivitis and periodontitis include:
The largest complication of untreated gingivitis is periodontitis. Complications stemming from periodontist include:
The link between periodontitis and increased risk of these serious chronic conditions is not fully understood.
Diagnosis for gingivitis and periodontitis is based upon thorough examination of the patient’s mouth, including cheeks, gums, and tongue. Probes may be used to examine gingival pockets.
X-rays may also be taken to evaluate possible damage to underlying bone structures.
Treatment for gingivitis includes:
Additional treatment for periodontitis includes:
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