Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease. If our teeth get over exposed to bacteria it can, over time, damage the gums.
Good diabetes control and keeping good oral hygiene can help to prevent gingivitis developing into more serious forms of gum disease.
How common is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a very common condition.
The NHS reports that approximately half of adults in the UK have either gingivitis or a more serious form of gum disease.
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
The signs of gingivitis include:
- Swelling or inflammation of the gums
- Redness - healthy gums should appear pink
- Bleeding of the gums - particularly noticeable following brushing
- Painful gums
What causes gingivitis?
When we eat, the carbohydrates in food are broken down by saliva into glucose and acids.
This effect will be more pronounced with sugary foods or refined carbohydrates (such as white bread).
The glucose and acids mix with bacteria to form plaque, which lines our teeth and gums.
Over time, plaque can damage the gums causing them to swell.
If our blood sugar levels are high, our saliva will have higher levels of glucose too and this encourages bacteria to grow and increases the risk of our gums becoming damaged.
Is gingivitis dangerous?
The main danger of gingivitis comes if it is not treated and allowed to develop into more serious forms of gum disease such as periodontitis or acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (see below).
How is gingivitis treated?
Gingivitis will usually require extra care in ensuring teeth are cleaned twice daily and flossed daily. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend you use mouthwash to help kill bacteria.
People with gingivitis should ensure they attend regular dentist visits to prevent gingivitis developing into more serious forms of gum disease.
Keeping blood glucose levels well controlled will also help to prevent gingivitis from developing.
- Read more on how to control diabetes.
Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis
Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis is less common than gingivitis or periodontitis but often more severe. Symptoms may include bleeding gums, ulcers, a metallic taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing or talking and may cause you to have a high temperature.
The HS advise visiting your dentist immediately if these symptoms are present.