They generally arise from poor dental hygiene over time, as this can allow bacteria to become lodged between the gums and teeth, where it will grow freely. However, several other factors play a role in gum infections and gum disease.
Pacifique Omwetowaze, a dental therapist at Kacyiru Police Hospital, says that a gum infection is a sign of overall poor oral health. She points out that gum infections are a result of an accumulation of bacteria in the tissue around the teeth.
“The mouth is full of different types of bacteria, without daily hygiene practices like brushing and flossing the teeth, bacteria form a film around the teeth. Those bacteria invade the area around the teeth and destroy the gum tissues, hence inflammation,” she says.
Gingivitis is the medical term for inflammation, according to Omwetowaze, who cites it as a result of gum infections.
“Gingivitis causes the gums to become red, and bleed easily such as when you are brushing. With the ailment, there is pain, bad breath, gum recession or sensitive teeth, among the other symptoms,” she explains.
If not treated, she adds, it can lead to teeth loss or decay. Chronic diseases may also arise because the bacteria can move from the teeth and enter the blood’s circulation system.
These inflammations can also cause social complications, for example, discomfort with smiling in public due to lack of confidence.
Moses Ndabaramiye, a medical doctor, also highlights that apart from poor oral hygiene, smoking is the other biggest cause of gum infections.
“Smoking stains the teeth which helps build the sticky deposit on the teeth in which bacteria thrive. It also weakens your body’s infection fighters,” he says.
He adds that poor nutrition can deprive the body of important nutrients which makes it difficult for the body to fight infections, including gum disease.
To prevent the disease, Omwetowaze advises on clean brushing that is effective and done regularly, saying, “The infections are prevented by brushing the teeth after every meal or at least twice a day, in the morning and at night before you sleep,” she says.
She also explains why it is important to clean our teeth at night. “When you sleep, there is a reduction in the production of saliva that normally helps us to clean the oral cavity, and it will result in the increase of the bacteria that cause the diseases of the gum and teeth.”
In her article regarding the health of oral cavity, Jennifer Archibald says that the loss of a tooth or its decay is caused by delay to visit a doctor.
“Visit a doctor for a check-up at least once a year. Even in the early stages of periodontal disease, such as gingivitis, it is important to see a dentist without delay to help prevent the issue from progressing,” she writes.
She also urges people to limit the intake of sugary foods and beverages.
Medical practitioners never guarantee that any kind of efforts will prevent gum infections, but they just reduce the manageable risk factors for them.
Working with a dentist to prevent or treat gum infections is important to avoid complications. Anyone who suspects that they have a gum infection should see their dentist.