Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease. It occurs when plaque, a bacteria-rich substance, builds up along the gumline. While gingivitis first causes no pain, it can develop into periodontal disease and eventually cause tooth loss.
If you have gum disease and wonder how long it takes to get rid of gingivitis, ask your dentist about your treatment options. Their answer depends on how extensive your gum disease is and your oral hygiene habits.
An Overview of Gingivitis
Knowing how long it takes to get rid of gingivitis is beneficial to understanding its lifecycle. The causes of gingivitis can be mitigated to decrease treatment time. If left untreated, gingivitis develops into periodontal disease, requiring significantly more treatment. The stage of disease progression directly affects how long it takes to get rid of gingivitis.
Plaque caused gingivitis
The most common cause of gum disease is plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque is the mixture of bacteria and sugary or starchy foods like fruit, soft drinks, pasta, and bread. The bacteria release acid that breaks down the foods. The mixture of broken-down food, acid, and bacteria creates plaque.
The bacteria in plaque create a byproduct that irritates and inflames gums. This is plaque-induced gingivitis. Gum disease is more likely to occur in people who smoke, are pregnant, or have diabetes.
Gingivitis’ symptoms include inflamed gums, irritated gums, red gums, and gums that easily bleed. Most of these symptoms are due to the increased blood flow to the gums when plaque irritates them.
Other causes of gingivitis
Other causes of gingivitis are significantly less common than plaque, but they are worth consideration because they are sometimes a sign of a medical disorder. The non-plaque causes of gingivitis range from viral infections to contact allergies to toothbrushing-induced ulcerations.
Your dentist will determine the exact cause of your gingivitis by looking at your dental history, your current health, and a dental examination. How long it takes to get rid of gingivitis depends on the cause of the gum disease.
For example, if gingivitis has a fungal origin, the treatment timeline will be different than gingivitis resulting from contact allergies. Fungal induced gingivitis, like candidosis, requires anti-fungal medication and takes up to two weeks to treat. A contact allergy that causes gingivitis is most commonly caused by a reaction to dental materials. The gingivitis subsides once the allergen materials are removed.
Consistent oral hygiene habits minimise the chance of developing gingivitis that requires treatment—brushing your teeth after eating removes plaque before it can harden into tartar. Flossing does the same to the inside parts of the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach.
It is important to brush and floss consistently because it takes just a few days for plaque to inflame the gums. Preventing gingivitis is possible, but almost everyone deals with gingivitis at some point in their life, so treatments are readily available.
Gingivitis is treated with a dental cleaning. A dental cleaning removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. It can also involve scaling and root planing, which removes tartar from beneath the gums and then smooths the tooth so gums can reconnect to it.
Gingivitis treatments can cause gum and tooth sensitivity, but it should subside in a couple of days. Symptoms of gingivitis should go away within two weeks of a successful gums treatment.
Gum grafting is necessary when gum disease causes excessive gum recession. A gum graft moves connective tissue from elsewhere in the mouth to the gums, so they grow back fuller and stronger. This provides better support for the tooth roots and improves your oral health long-term.
Recovery time is longer for a gum graft, requiring approximately one to two weeks for the graft site to heal. During this time, you must follow directions from your dentist regarding cleaning your teeth and what you can eat.
Gingivitis Progression to Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis develops into periodontal disease when left untreated. The untreated plaque builds up and hardens into tartar. Brushing and flossing can not remove tartar from teeth. The bacteria in tartar and plaque continue to irritate gums, resulting in inflammation and gum recession from the teeth.
Receding gums create pockets between the teeth and gums where more tartar build-up can occur. Periodontal disease occurs in these pockets and is classified by the breakdown of gums and bones responsible for tooth stability. A symptom of periodontal disease is loose teeth.
When gum disease develops from gingivitis to periodontitis, the treatment time increases significantly. A patient with periodontal disease may require tooth replacement and a bone graft, which take up to nine months to recover from.
Regular Dentist Visits Reduce How Long it Takes to Get Rid of Gingivitis
Most people will have a mild form of gingivitis at some point in their lives. If you want to ensure your mouth stays free of gum disease, visit a dentist twice a year for dental cleanings. The symptoms of gingivitis will subside within two weeks after your dental cleanings and will stay away if you brush and floss consistently.
Dentistry on Solent provides comprehensive dental care for you and your family. Contact us today on (02) 9158 6137 to learn more about our gum treatments and other dental procedures.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Non–plaque-induced gingival diseases
Gingivitis and periodontitis: Overview