Since serious gum infections are not extremely common, they can lead to major issues if not treated in a timely manner. While most of us aspire to keep our teeth and gums healthy, your gums can be prone to gum infection if not cared for properly. Infection occurs when germs or bacteria enter a susceptible site in the body and multiply, resulting in disease.
In your mouth, this can occur when bad bacteria multiply and congregate within the space between your gums and your teeth called the sulcus. If the bacteria are not removed, over time they can cause tissue breakdown and the formation of periodontal pockets and infections.
Link between gum disease and infected gums
Approximately 50 percent of adult Americans have gingivitis, an early and mild form of gum disease. However, only 5 to 15 percent of Americans have the more serious and advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis. That’s because most people who visit their dentist regularly will find out about gum disease and treat it before it get more serious.
Periodontitis affects the area of your mouth just below the gum line, in the v-shaped crevice between your tooth and gums, known as the sulcus. This impacts the attachment of your tooth and causes the nearby tissue to break down. Once the tissue is damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket that can store bacteria and lead to gum infection.
How can you tell if your gums are infected?
When the inside of your mouth gets hurt or irritated, bacteria may enter and cause an infection. Sometimes you will see a painful swelling filled with pus. Also, the area will get more swollen and painful. This is known as an abscess, which forms a barrier around the infection. This is one way that your body tries to keep a bacterial infection from spreading.
Abscesses can form very quickly. Sometimes they form only one or two days after the infection starts. There are two types of abscesses:
- A gum abscess (periodontal abscess) usually is caused by an infection in the space between the tooth and gum. The infection may occur after food gets trapped between the gum and tooth. In people with severe periodontal disease, bacteria can build up under the gum and in the bone.
- A tooth-related abscess (periapical abscess) occurs inside the tooth. This happens when the tooth’s nerve is dead or dying. This type of abscess shows up at the tip of the tooth’s root. Then it spreads to the surrounding bone.
Sometimes the infection causes little or no pain. If an abscess is not treated, the infection can last for months or even years. It will not go away on its own, so it’s important not to ignore the symptoms.
What causes infected gums?
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, inflammation around the tooth. In periodontitis, infected gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.
Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
- Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
- Hormonal changes in girls/women.These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Other illnesses and their treatments.Diseases such as AIDS and its treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer.
- There are hundreds of prescription and over the counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infected gums disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
- Genetic susceptibility.Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.
Who gets gum disease?
Those don’t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have infected gums than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.
Infected Gums Symptoms
Gum disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down, or in the fit of partial dentures.
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- longer appearing teeth
Any of these symptoms of infected gums may be a sign of a serious problem, which should be checked by a dentist. At your dental visit the dentist or hygienist should:
- Ask about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors (such as smoking) that may contribute to gum disease.
- Examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation.
- Use a tiny ruler called a “probe” to check for and measure any pockets. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimetres. This test for pocket depth is usually painless.
The dentist or hygienist may also:
- Take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss.
- Refer you to a periodontist; experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and may provide you with treatment options that are not offered by your dentist.
Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as the molars. Only a dentist or a periodontist can recognize and determine the progression of gum disease.
Signs of Gum Cancer
Your infected gums feel strange, but not enough for you to know what the problem is. Maybe they’re irritated, they bleed when you brush or floss or you’ve noticed a white spot on the surface itself. There are a number of issues that can affect your gums, not necessarily limited to gingivitis. Although gum disease is the more common of the two affecting slightly more than 47 percent of all adults, oral cancer is also a legitimate possibility.
Gum cancer is even less common, affecting about 39,500 people in the U.S. this year as estimated by the American Cancer Society. Knowing how to tell the difference and when to see your dentist will help you keep your mouth healthy in spite of this uncomfortable condition.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can affect any area of your mouth, from the lips to the gums and from the inner cheek tissue to the tongue. It is easily confused with gum disease. Nonetheless, the former is characterized by patches or irregular growths on the gums. These are known as erythroleukoplakia when they are red and white, leukoplakia when they are white or erythroplakia when they are red.
- Leukoplakia can be benign, whereas erythroleukoplakia and erythroplakia are more likely to be malignant. If you see any unusual growths on the surface of your infected gums, and they don’t clear up on their own after two weeks, scheduling an appointment with a dentist to have him or her, a biopsy of the area.
Signs of Gingivitis
The signs of gingivitis are quite different from the signs of oral or gum cancer, but there are two things these conditions have in common:
- In the early stages, neither tend to be painful. Areas of redness can be connected to either cancer or gingivitis, but the redness can go unnoticed between the two. When a person has gingivitis, his gums are usually dusky red, rather than a light pink.
- Secondly, gingivitis can make the gums more likely to bleed, become puffy or feel as tender to the touch as a cancerous gum line.
A deep cleaning at your dentist’s office, combined with a commitment to taking care of your teeth and gums at home, can help reverse gingivitis and prevent it from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.
Link Between gingivitis and oral cancer?
Having gingivitis shouldn’t necessarily worry you that it will develop into cancer, but there is some degree of connection between having gum disease and contracting cancer – not limited to oral cancer. Research has it that, men with gum disease carried a 14 percent higher risk for cancer than men without it.
There may be a greater risk for lung or pancreatic cancer in certain circumstances, as well. The exact reason for the connection isn’t quite clear, but it does highlight the importance of taking care of your mouth in the interest of the rest of your body.
What to Do
- The best way to reduce your risk for developing gingivitis, infected gums, gum cancer or another type of oral cancer is to see your dentist on a regular basis for check-ups. He can spot and diagnose any problems before they become bigger problems.
- Just as important is good oral care at home, which includes brushing twice a day, using a toothpaste and flossing at least once a day – all of which can minimize your chances of developing gingivitis.
- Avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products, and drinking only in moderation, can also help you cut your risk for developing an oral cancer that involves the gums.
Gingivitis and gum cancer are two very different conditions, but both of which you want to take seriously. Protect your mouth by seeing a dentist regularly.
Gum Ball on gums in Mouth
The presence of a lump, or mass, on the gums can be caused by several different conditions. It may be felt as a bump or hard or soft lump anywhere on the gums. An infection, such as a bacterial infection or localized abscess, can appear as a mass on the gums. Oral cancer or tumors of the teeth or jaw are rarer causes of a mass on the gums.
A cyst of the jaw is also a possible cause of gum balls or mass on the gums. Traumatic injuries and infected gum canker sores are some of the more common causes of a mass on the gums. Sometimes, the hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause a small lump or bump to form near the gum line, known as a granuloma gravidarum.
What causes gumballs in Mouth
Gum balls can sometimes be an allergic reaction to something you ate. For example, there are people who cannot eat spearmint. The spearmint causes her to develop gum balls in her mouth. Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the gum ball and gargle with warm salt water.
Gum Infection Home Remedies
Treating infected gums isn’t especially difficult. In fact, there are numerous home remedies for gum disease you can utilize right here. But you don’t really have to suffer from bleeding, swollen, irritated gums; there are certainly other options when it comes to invasive dental treatments meant to treat periodontal disease.
Natural home remedies for infected gums
Here are natural home remedies for gum disease that will make your dentists’ head spin at your next appointment:
This method has been raved about not only for curing swollen, red gums, but even reversing gum disease with bone loss. It ‘pulls’ toxins right out of your mouth and gums. It removes plaque build-up and has been studied in several to be very effective. Just be sure to use 100% organic oil sesame, olive, or coconut is best because you wouldn’t want to be swishing pesticide-laden oils around in your mouth for several minutes at a time.
Sage Leaf Decoction
This is an old remedy for gingivitis and gum disease. All you need to do is boil around 50 fresh organic sage leaves in some distilled water and then gargle the decoction several times a day as well as use it like a mouthwash. You can also make a sage tea and drink it throughout the day. Sage has huge amounts of antioxidants and it also contains it anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
Garlic and Turmeric Paste for infected gums
Use garlic cloves on irritated gums, or simply make a garlic & turmeric paste to use like toothpaste, then rinse after it has been in your mouth for several minutes. Both of these naturally-occurring foods are full of antibacterial properties, and turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory agent.
This method has been used for hundreds of years to combat bad dental hygiene. It destroys bacteria in the mouth and heals the gums very fast. It also has pain-reducing qualities along with being anti-microbial and anti-bacterial.
Aloe Vera Gel
Best when it comes straight form the plant, aloe vera is a great anti-inflammatory that is especially helpful if your gums are red and inflamed.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Not only do fruits and vegetables with skins help clean the teeth, but the antioxidants in both fruits and vegetables also prevent plaque build-up in the mouth.
Gum Infection Treatment over the Counter
Antimicrobial therapy is the use of chemicals to kill or slow down the growth of bacteria that cause periodontal disease. The two most common forms of this therapy are antiseptics and antibiotics. Antiseptics are found in mouth rinses. They usually are used to help prevent periodontal disease.
Antibiotics are used to kill specific bacteria. They are placed under the gums or given as pills to treat infected gums. Antibiotic pills typically are given only for acute (sudden and short-term) infections. Acute and long-term (chronic) gum infections require a procedure called scaling and root planning. Some people also may need periodontal surgery.
One of the newest ways to kill bacteria is laser therapy. Dentists now use lasers to kill bacteria in the gum pockets around teeth. This treatment also seems to stimulate healing.
What It’s Used For
Periodontal disease is caused by specific types of bacteria. Killing these bacteria can help to prevent and treat the disease.
Bacteria can grow and form clusters or colonies on the tongue and tonsils and in the saliva. Mouth rinses can control the excess growth of bacteria. The goal is to prevent them from causing disease. These rinses contain:
- Povodine iodine
- 1% sodium hypo-chloride
Rinses also can be used at home to wash out the pockets around the teeth with irrigation devices.
Antibiotics for infected gums
Dentists often prescribe antibiotics to treat an acute gum infection called an abscess. A periodontist also may use antibiotics for some cases of gum disease that are hard to treat. They include:
- Necrotizing lacerative gingivitis a rare form of periodontal disease that becomes severe very quickly
- Severe forms of periodontitis (advanced gum disease)
- Periodontal disease that has not improved with other types of treatment
- Periodontal disease in people who have weakened immune systems
The type of antibiotic prescribed depends upon the exact type of the bacteria. Several antibiotics have been used to treat aggressive periodontal disease.
Most of the time, the first treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planning. This combined approach can successfully treat many forms of periodontal disease.
How It’s Done
Your dentist may prescribe a specific antiseptic rinse. You can buy some rinses over the counter. You do not need a prescription for them.
If you are given antibiotics in oral (pill) form, you will take them for 7 to 10 days.
Your dentist also can place an antibiotic directly into the affected parts of your mouth. This is called local therapy. It can take several forms, including:
- Gel— your dentist injects a gel containing doxycycline under your gums. The area is sealed and covered with a special bandage called a periodontal pack. After 7 to 10 days, your dentist removes the bandage and any remaining gel.
- Powder— your dentist squirts a powder containing minocycline under your gums. The powder dissolves over three weeks.
If your dentist owns a dental laser, it will be used after root planning and scaling. The dentist places the laser tip in the space between your tooth and gum, then moves it around the entire tooth. This process begins from the base of each pocket. The dentist can treat your whole mouth at one time. This will eliminate the bacteria in the pockets throughout your mouth.
- Gum infection treatment and prevention: https://crest.com/en-us/oral-care-topics/general-oral-hygiene/gum-infection-treatment-prevention
- Mouth abscess: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/dental-emergencies-and-sports-safety/article/abscess
- Gum disease causes symptoms and treatments: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm#pageContent
- Gingivitis and periodontal disease: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease#1
- Gum cancer or gingivitis: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/cancer/article/gum-cancer-or-gingivitis-how-to-tell-the-difference-0915