Common Oral Health Problems – Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Several gum problems which when left untreated even results in tooth loss, on the contrary, most oral health conditions are preventable and treated well in early stages. Some of the common Oral health diseases that impact our oral health are Gingivitis and Periodontitis.  The most common oral health problem in 50percent of the population is Gingivitis (Gum inflammation).

Oral health poses a major health burden and affects people throughout their lifetime and often goes unnoticed and ignored by most of the people.

Due to changes in living conditions and lifestyle, oral diseases have become a common problem. This is due to several factors like Intake of more sugary food and beverages, Alcohol, improper oral hygiene contribute to oral health problems

Oral health diseases are strongly connected to socioeconomic status. The income, education, lifestyle, oral hygiene care is correlated with the prevalence and severity of oral health problems. There is a strong need to reform the system in such a way that focus may shift from invasive treatment to early detection, prevention, and minor and basic treatment.

Let’s discuss the most common oral health diseases – Gingivitis and Periodontitis.

gum infection or gum problems
gum infection or gum problems


Have you noticed a bit of blood mixed with saliva in your basin while brushing your teeth, rinsing, or spitting? It could be a sign of the early stage of gum disease which should not be ignored!!

Gingivitis is gum inflammation and is the most common oral health problem. It is caused by an increase in the number of microorganisms releasing toxins in the oral cavity thus leading to inflammation of gums. However, there are other factors too that contribute to gum inflammation such as Diabetes mellitus, Drug-induced Gingivitis, Vitamin C deficiency.


Causes of Gingivitis

Plaque formation(A sticky, film of bacteria that develops around teeth and it happens to everyone. This bacteria feed on sugars left from food on teeth thus leading to gum inflammation) due to improper oral hygiene such as improper brushing, flossing is the most common cause of gingivitis.

Calculus formation – Plaque is a soft film that develops daily around teeth and needs to be removed with proper brushing and flossing. When plaque is not removed properly it hardens and forms calculus also called tartar. Calculus or tartar you cannot clean yourself you need to go to the dentist to get it removed by professional cleaning.

Gum inflammation (Gingivitis) – When you ignore plaque or tartar formed for a longer duration of time the bacteria attaches around them and your gums become inflamed and start bleeding.

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Periodontitis – When Gum Inflammation of Gingivitis is left untreated it progresses to periodontitis and further may even cause tooth loss.


different gum problems, gingivitis
different gum problems, gingivitis

Symptoms of Gingivitis

  • Bleeding from gums while brushing or touching
  • Swollen gums that look puffy in nature
  • Dark red gums or dusky red gums in color 
  • Spongy soft gums that bleed easily
  • Bad breath from mouth
  • Painful gums due to swelling.


Risk Factors

Gingivitis is a very common oral health problem. Though it can occur to anyone some factors can increase the risk of gingivitis.

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Habit of Smoking
  • Nutritional deficiency of Vitamin C
  • Improper dental fillings
  • Hormonal changes like pregnancy, menstruation
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Certain drugs use like Phenytoin an epileptic drug
  • Low immunity
  • Psychological stress


causes of gingivitis
causes of gingivitis

Prevention of Gingivitis

Oral hygiene measures – Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day especially before going to bed.

Flossing at least once a day.

Brush your teeth after every meal or snack if brushing is not possible at least gargle with normal water to remove the food that sticks around the teeth.

Use Chlorhexidine mouth wash at least once a day or you can use natural mouthwash too.

Regular Dental visit or consultation – You should always try to visit your dentist for at least twice a day to get a regular dental checkup to identify any dental disease and get it treated at its initial stage only.

If you have any risk factors like Diabetes or you have a habit of smoking or you are on any medication you need to consider dental visits at least twice a day with professional cleaning of teeth.

Healthy regular eating – Eat clean and healthy food daily while limiting the intake of sugary food and beverages.


Treatment of Gingivitis

In its early stages, Gingivitis can be identified by a dentist and can be treated by proper cleaning and flossing only.

If required your dentist would advise you professional cleaning then you can maintain it yourself.

Your Dentist would prescribe Medications in the form of oral antibiotics, painkillers, dental gels in case you have pain or swollen gums, and bleeding.


Home Remedies for Gingivitis

You can follow these simple home remedies to prevent pain, bleeding, and swelling. These techniques are very simple to use and very effective in maintaining your gingival health.

oral health problems and remedies
oral health problems and remedies

Warm Water Salt Rinses

Method – Take 1/2 teaspoonful of salt mix it in 1 cup of lukewarm water. Gargle for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the oral cavity and spit. Repeat it for 2- 3 times a day during the early stage of gum inflammation.

Massage your Gums Daily

Take pea size of any toothpaste massage your gums especially in the morning in a horizontal and circular motion slowly for 2-3 minutes. Spit and rinse your oral cavity with normal water.

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Mustard Oil and Turmeric Massage

During pain or inflammation take few drops of Mustard oil and mix turmeric (It has healing properties) Mix them and make a paste. Gently massage your swollen gums with this mixture for 2 minutes for 2-3 times a day. This miraculous mixture would provide you a lot of relief from pain and swelling.

Oil Pulling

One of the ancient dental techniques of Ayurveda is swishing oil in the oral cavity for 5-15 minutes (per your convenience) early in the morning before brushing and flossing. Use Coconut oil as it adds extra benefits. Don’t skip brushing and flossing after Oil Pulling. This technique removes all toxins or bacteria attached to the tooth surface and provides healthy gums and teeth.


oral cavity and oral hygiene
oral cavity and oral hygiene

Remove the Cause

Try to find out the cause that is affecting your oral health. By limiting the factors that are causing gingivitis you can easily control the problem.

Eat Healthy Drink Healthy

Eat clean and green food and drink at least 2 liters of water daily. This would help in maintaining not only your oral health but your general health too.



Periodontitis is a severe gum infection which causes inflammation of periodontium. In the initial stages when gingivitis is left untreated it slowly progresses to Periodontitis an infection that can even cause tooth loss.

Plaque and tartar that is formed during the initial stages between the teeth and gums lead to gingivitis. When it is left unnoticed and not treated this plaque and tartar spread to the bone present under the tooth leading to a more severe form of gum disease. 

Periodontitis can occur to people of any age it may even include young adults When people do not treat their gingivitis for many years they may start developing periodontitis. In old people, it may lead to tooth loss because the infection reaches to bones that hold the teeth. The infection breaks the bone and tooth attachment and later tooth loss.

causes and treatment of periodontitis
causes and treatment of periodontitis

Causes of Periodontitis

  • Untreated gingivitis for a long duration may progress to periodontitis eventually.
  • Diseases like Diabetes type 1, Down’s syndrome, AIDS can lead to an increase in periodontitis.
  • Microorganisms such as bacteria accumulate in the oral cavity leading to gingivitis that can progress to periodontitis.


Risk factors for Periodontitis

Common risk factors are –

  • Habit of smoking
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Stress and emotional distress
  • Weak immune system
  • Bad breath
  • Poor oral hygiene habits


Symptoms of Periodontitis

Early symptoms – Gingival bleeding, the bluish red color of the gingiva, Pain, swollen and tender gums, bad breath.

Severe periodontitis – As the condition progresses Tooth mobility and difficulty in chewing are accompanied by painful chewing. Periodontitis is usually painless but once pus starts collecting abscess formation leads to pain, tooth mobility, and in severe cases tooth loss.

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oral hygiene and oral health problems
oral hygiene and oral health problems

Diagnosis of Periodontitis

Clinical diagnosis – It is done by a Dentist with the help of dental instruments.

Radiographic diagnosis – X-rays are taken to see the amount of bone loss.


Treatment of Periodontitis

  • Antibiotics and pain killers are prescribed according to the requirement.
  • For temporary relief drainage of pus is done by the dentist.
  • Treatment of risk factors such as maintenance of poor oral hygiene, Diabetes.
  • Stopping the habit of smoking.
  • Professional cleaning including cleaning of teeth along with roots that are called scaling with root planning in professional terms is done by a dentist.
  • Flap Surgery according to the patient’s oral cavity condition is done by a dentist.
  • In extreme cases, tooth removal is the only option.


oral health problems, gingivitis and gum diseases
oral health problems, gingivitis and gum diseases


On the final note as a dentist, I would recommend Prevention is better than cure. Prevention or treating any oral diseases in its initial stage is always helpful in preventing pain, high treatment costs, and a time-consuming treatment process.

The ideal regimen to prevent the oral cavity is very simple. It includes :- 

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste having fluoride content. Night brushing should not be avoided at all.
  • Brush your teeth after every snack or meal if brushing is not possible at least gargle it with normal water.
  • Use natural or chlorhexidine mouthwash once a day to prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the oral cavity.
  • Flossing is an important part of oral hygiene regimen.
  • Rinsing your mouth with lukewarm saltwater promotes healthy teeth and gums.
Dr Jyotsana Anand
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