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What Exactly is Gum Inflammation?

Posted on 11/23/2015 by Zac Bird
A woman suffering from inflamed gums.Gum inflammation is often brought up in a dental exam, but do you really know exactly what it is? Gum inflammation is a big deal, as it has been linked to other long-term problems like heart disease. By better understanding what gum disease is and why your body issues an inflammatory response, you can be better prepared to deal with it when it arises.

Taking a Basic Look at Gum Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's first response to injury, and it is generally the first step in the healing process. For example, if you get a paper cut, an inflammatory response is generally the first reaction by your body. There are four major components to inflammation:

•  Redness. Redness will occur when tissues are inflamed because the blood rushes to the injury. This blood carries white blood cells designed to facilitate healing and fight infection. Even if you aren't bleeding, blood will still flow to the site of the injury, which is why your gums will appear so red if you have gum disease.
•  Heat. Similar to redness, heat will occur because of increased blood flow to the site of the injury. It also results from the increased activity of the white blood cells as they work to clean the area.
•  Swelling. Swelling is another major indication of an injury. When parts of our bodies are injured, chemical signals are sent to stimulate the capillary walls. When this happens, fluid will leak into the space between the blood vessels, making the affected area feel larger and squishy. Gum tissue will become inflamed when the bacterial acids swell.
•  Pain. This part of inflammation is something that most of us are all too familiar with. Pain will occur when the neurons in the affected area become especially sensitive and send off pain signals to the brain. These signals are intended to tell us when something that we don't want to happen in our body has happened.

Treating Gum Inflammation

If you notice that your gums are inflamed, there are several steps that you should take. The first - and arguably most important - is to keep brushing. All too often people are afraid to brush, as they think that they'll make the inflammation worse by irritating the area, but this isn't good logic. The plaque particles that are causing the inflammation to begin with need to be removed, and brushing is the best way to do that. Flossing will also help to remove the plaque from between the teeth, and rinsing with a mouthwash will aid in reducing inflammation.

Certain medications are also helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen, for example, can ease both of these symptoms within the gums. Your dentist can prescribe antibiotics that will target the bacteria that are responsible for gum inflammation, and these may be applied topically or taken by an oral tablet.

You might also want to add a vitamin supplement to your diet. Vitamin C can reduce the incidence of gum diseases like gingivitis and will boost the immune system, but you should be careful to not take too much, as some of these foods will contain acids that can cause tooth damage if consumed too frequently. Vitamin D supplements can also be useful for their anti-inflammatory properties, and if you don't want to take a supplement, just spend some time outdoors, as the sunlight is the best source of vitamin D that you can find.

If you notice that your gums are inflamed, you should certainly try and use these self-care tips, but also contact us for an appointment. We can conduct a thorough exam to determine what exactly is causing the inflammation and what you can do to prevent it in the future.








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