Your mouth is an integral part of the body that can be affected by various infections. These infections can occur at any age and can severely affect both your natural gums and teeth. If your gums are tender and painful, you might be suffering from a gum infection.

A gum infection can be a very harmful infection as it might cause damage and inflammation in the gums and jaw.

Most gum infections arise from poor dental hygiene over time. Slowly the condition allows the bacteria to become lodged between the gums and teeth, where it will grow freely. But there could be several other factors that play a significant role in gum disease and gum infections.

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Closely working with your dentist to prevent or treat gum infections is crucial to avoid complications. If you suspect that they have a gum infection, they should immediately see their dentist.

At Dentist Ahmed Clinic, you can get detailed information about gum infections, including causes and symptoms. Here we also discuss when to see a dentist. 

Types of Gum Infection

Gum infections can develop with natural teeth as with removable dentures or dental implants.

Natural teeth

As you might have noticed, gingivitis and periodontal disease are types of infections that can develop on your gums surrounding the natural teeth. With time your healthy teeth can also get affected.

An abscess from an untreated tooth cavity is likely to cause a gum infection. This is often known as a  periodontal abscess, a chronic infection inside the tissues surrounding the periodontal pocket.

The most common gum infection symptoms seen on natural teeth are:

  • Pain in the gum, tooth, gum, or mandible.
  • Difficulty in swallowing or drinking.
  • Swelling in the cheek
  • Redness in the affected area.
  • Pus discharge.

Dental Implants

As you might know, dental implants are an excellent solution for replacing missing teeth. Implants are also sturdy, aesthetic and can last you long. 

If the dental implant’s artificial root cannot become infected, the gum that surrounds the dental implant can become infected. This is commonly known as a peri-implant infection.

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Gum infection symptoms seen with dental implants are similar to those of gingivitis. A peri-implant infection will not cause pain and can spread at a greater rate. Hence you should properly maintain your dental implant to avoid this type of infection as much as possible.

Removable Dentures

Sometimes, wearing a removable denture might cause gum infection. This type of infection, called denture stomatitis, is seen to occur in people who constantly wear their removable dentures. It can also happen when the denture does not fit properly inside the mouth. Some symptoms due to gum infection could be – redness of the gums and inflammation of the palatal taste buds.

Causes of Gum Infection 

Note that gum infections are often caused by poor oral hygiene. Infection is primarily an accumulation of harm-causing bacteria in the tissue around your teeth and gum line. Poor oral hygiene will promote plaque accumulation in your oral cavity by not cleaning the microorganisms and bacteria out of your mouth. Over time the plaque will harden into tartar.

The accumulation of calculus or tartar could eventually lead to a gum infection. The most commonly occurring is periodontitis or gingivitis.

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There are high chances you may get a gum infection after tooth extraction. The condition occurs if you have complications after wisdom teeth removal.

As you know, the human mouth is full of different types of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial. Daily hygiene practices should include brushing and flossing, as they help control bacteria levels. Brushing and flossing aid in keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy and preventing decay.

Without these sincere efforts, bacteria will form a film around your teeth called plaque on teeth. If you do not clean off plaque, it can harden into tartar, which may be difficult to remove.

The buildup of tartar will make it more challenging to clean your teeth, making it even easier for bacteria to invade the affected area around the teeth and gums. Moreover, the buildup of the bacteria, especially under the gum line, can easily lead the area to become infected.

Poor Oral Hygiene Leads to Gum Disease

Your oral hygiene practices will help clear out this bacteria to prevent gum infection. It simply means that poor oral hygiene will contribute to oral disease and tooth decay.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research confirmed that smoking is most likely a risk factor for gum disease. In addition, smoking may make the treatment less effective.

Other risk factors contributing to gum infections include diabetes, stress, genetics, crooked teeth, hormonal changes in women, especially during pregnancy, medications that make your mouth dry or slow down saliva flow. In addition, oral devices like dentures or bridges that do not fit properly can also be problematic, and even dental fillings are defective. All these could also contribute to some kind of risk.

Gum Infection Symptoms

The symptoms of a gum infection would probably vary depending on how advanced it is and where it is located. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that the early stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis is the medical term primarily used to describe the inflammation in the gums.  

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However, gingivitis might lead to infections or more advanced periodontal disease in the long run. Gingivitis might cause puffy, red gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing your teeth. However, when the inflammation progresses into infection in the area, your symptoms might become more apparent.

Other common signs of gum infection include:

  • pain while chewing
  • sensitive teeth
  • loose teeth
  • spitting out blood, after teeth brushing
  • bad breath that does not go away
  • pus discharge in the mouth
  • receding gums
  • changes in the fitting of partial dentures
  • changes in how an individual bites

The infection might lead to forming a pocket of pus in the mouth, often called tooth abscess, which might require prompt treatment. An individual with an abscess might experience painful swelling and discharge of pus in the mouth. If the infections are untreated, more complications could arise. For example, infected tissues of the gums might put the root of a nearby tooth at risk, which leads to complete loss of the tooth.

How to Treat a Gum Infection 

Once your gum infection is detected, treatment is required at the earliest. The treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis and seriousness of the infection in the gum. The most common ways to treat gum infections are as follows:

  • Antibiotics can be either in the form of injections or tablets. 
  • Scaling and root planing in case of advanced conditions. 
  • Gingivectomy is a treatment that removes infected gum tissue. 
  • Gum surgery in case of very serious cases.

It is vital to promptly treat a gum infection to avoid future complications in your mouth and body. The CDC confirmed – that good oral hygiene and regular professional teeth cleaning can effectively control and treat earlier stages of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease.

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If plaque turns into tartar, your dentist will have to clean it off the teeth using dental instruments. If your dentist breaks apart this hardened tartar, it will help control inflammation and damage in your gums. 

A gum infection, or periodontitis, may even require deep cleaning the gums, especially in the pockets crested around the teeth. Your dentist might also clear out any abscesses that are present. In some cases, it might require your dentist to remove areas of the tissues or gums.

However, more persistent and severe infections could need treatment with oral antibiotics. Additionally, your dentist might inject antibiotics directly into the area to help clear out the infection in some cases. But more advanced cases might require surgery, such as bone or tissue grafts, to repair the damage done to the jaw.

Home Remedies to Treat Gum Infection

Home remedies are an effective and cheap way to treat gum infections. If you begin treatment at the early stages, home remedies can usually clear the infection.

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Though most home remedies contain natural ingredients, you should not swallow them. Always buy high-quality products which you will use in your treatments. It is also good to keep them refrigerated, especially if you live in a warmer climate. The home remedies are generally safe to use. But seek medical advice if you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as extreme pain or bleeding.

These different home remedies can help clear your symptoms, as well as how to prevent future infection.

1 Salt water treatment

A study showed that using a salt water rinse can be very beneficial in healing inflamed gums by gingivitis. As you know, salt is a natural disinfectant that helps your body to heal itself. Salt water can help ease pain, reduce bacteria, remove particles from your teeth, and relieve bad breath.

2 Lemongrass oil mouthwash

Remember, you should never try to swallow mouthwashes. Be sure to spit the mixture out after swishing it around your mouth. In one study, lemongrass oil was found to be one of the most effective mouthwashes than traditional mouthwashes that can reduce plaque and gingivitis levels. You must always dilute two to three drops of lemongrass essential oil in a cup of water. Use it as a mouthwash and spit it out

Similarly, you can use lemongrass oil mouthwash, aloe vera mouthwash, tea tree oil mouthwash, saga mouthwash, and even guava leaf mouthwash.

3 Coconut Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an age-old technique that involves swishing oil around in your mouth for about 20 to 30 minutes. Oil pulling is very helpful in reducing harmful bacteria, eliminating toxins, and even improving your overall oral health. In recent years, oil pulling has become more popular, especially in the West, though it has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine.

The most popular oil used is coconut oil which contains lauric acid, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Using coconut oil for oil pulling can significantly reduce plaque and signs of gum disease. Oil pulling is safe to practice but be careful not to swallow the liquid. It is probably because it contains bacteria and toxins pulled from the tissue in your mouth. 

Gum Infection – When to Visit Your Dentist?

Gum infections might sometimes develop slowly and are not always painful initially. This makes it difficult to detect them at an early stage. The slow progress of the gum disease also delays the diagnosis and management of the infection.

If you have any of the symptoms, it is important to see a dentist determine the cause and degree of infection. So your dentist can give that appropriate treatment at the right time.

Who should you see in case you have a gum infection? When infection from dentures or natural teeth occurs, you should see a general dentist. When the infection involves a dental implant, you should see your maxillofacial surgeon as well as your dentist.