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Gingivitis Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • See a dentist if you have symptoms of gingivitis like swollen, sensitive, discolored, or bleeding gums.
  • Your dentist will likely clean your teeth and remove any plaque and tartar on your teeth.
  • For more severe gingivitis, in-office treatments may include washing (scaling) the gums, removing dead or infected tissue (debridement), local anesthetic to relieve pain, antibiotics, and other treatments.
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Symptom relief

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  • Brushing and flossing regularly can help prevent and treat gingivitis.
  • Using a mouthwash formulated to treat gum disease, and rinsing with salt water, can help reduce pain and inflammation.
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All treatments for gingivitis
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When to see a dentist

You should always see a dentist if you have symptoms of gingivitis, which include swollen, sensitive, discolored, or bleeding gums.

It’s important to be treated because gingivitis can cause serious complications. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis (infection and destruction of the bone connected to the teeth) or an abscess (pocket of infection) of the gums or jaw. The infection can also enter the bloodstream. leading to sepsis or heart valve problems.

Getting diagnosed

Your dentist can usually diagnose gingivitis by examining your teeth and gums and measuring the depths of your gum tissue pockets. You may need dental X-rays to check the bones around your teeth.

What to expect from your dental visit

  • The goal of gingivitis treatment is to improve your dental hygiene. The dentist or dental hygienist cleans your teeth to remove plaque and tartar.
  • After your cleaning, your dentist may recommend taking anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for pain and swelling.
  • If gingivitis was caused by a medication or underlying health condition, you may need to stop taking the medication or be referred to a specialist.
  • More severe gingivitis may need to be treated with a gum procedure like:
    • Washing (scaling) of the gums
    • Removal of dead or infected tissue (debridement)
    • A local anesthetic to relieve pain
    • Antibiotics
    • Drainage of any abscesses
    • Removal of infected dental implants

Prescription gingivitis medications

  • Oral antibiotic rinse: chlorhexidine (Periogard)
  • Topical antibiotics: doxycycline (Periostat),  minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin)
  • Oral antibiotics: amoxicillin, clindamycin (Cleocin)

Types of gingivitis providers

  • A dentist can treat gingivitis.
  • A dental hygienist usually does dental cleaning in a dental office.
  • A periodontist is a specialist who treats gum disease.
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