Gum Infection: How Do You Get It, and How Is It Treated?

An infection of the gums can be painful and threaten your oral health. While some people who have a gum infection won’t experience symptoms, the majority will.

These signs and symptoms could include a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing or using mouthwash, and inflamed gum tissue. Some people may even notice bleeding when they brush or experience shifting teeth.

But what exactly causes someone to get a gum infection? Here’s how gum infections happen and how they’re treated.

Common Causes of Gum Infection

There are several things that could lead to a gum infection, but one of the most common is periodontal (gum) disease [1].

Periodontal disease is typically the result of poor oral hygiene and genetics. Plaque and bacteria build up on the teeth and can work their way below the gumline. When this happens, the connective tissue that help hold your teeth in place are damaged and can cause pockets of infection [2].

Periodontal disease can progress slowly or rapidly depending on the person and the cause. For many people, they won’t experience symptoms until the condition has advanced.

People who use tobacco are more at risk to experience a gum infection as are people who have a compromised immune system, such as people who are receiving immunotherapy drugs such as chemotherapy.

How a Gum Infection Is Treated

Prompt treatment can help reverse your gum disease and prevent it from progressing to the point that you’re at risk for tooth loss. You should ideally contact your dentist as soon as you suspect an infection might be present.

Your dentist will want to conduct a deep cleaning of your teeth—this is often referred to as a root planing and scaling in dentistry—which will help to remove the infection underneath your gums.

Taking care of your teeth and gums at home is going to be vital to healing your gum infection. You may need to adopt healthier eating habits, quit smoking, and, of course, brush and floss daily. In addition, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help the infection go away or administer an antibiotic treatment at the office.

If your gum disease doesn’t respond to treatment or has progressed past the point that a good cleaning and antibiotics will help, you may need surgery or gum tissue grafts to help heal your smile.

For dentists that use laser technology, you may be able to receive laser therapy in conjunction with the above treatments for a more comprehensive approach to treating the infection [3].

Keep Your Gums Healthy!

Gums are vital to the health of our teeth and need to be kept healthy. Gums keep our teeth secure in our jaw and support proper oral health.

By regularly visiting your dentist in combination with regular oral health habits, you can prevent gum infections from happening in the first place. Schedule an appointment with your local dentist if you suspect a gum infection is compromising your oral health!