There are various kinds of gum disease that can affect your overall oral health. Desquamative gingivitis is just one form of gum disease that may require professional dental advice or procedures to overcome.
Symptoms of gingivitis
Gum disease is usually caused by an overgrowth of bacteria on the gingival tissue. Of course, there are various factors that contribute to an overgrowth of flesh-eating bacteria. Over time as the bacteria multiply out of control it leads to infection. This infection causes symptoms to develop such as the following:
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Sensitive gums
Desquamative gingivitis, which is sometimes known as gingivosis, is a form of gum disease where the gum tissue layers begin to separate from each other. The division of these gum layers provides space for bacteria to enter and multiply, which leads to infection.
The gum tissue that faces out is affected by the condition much more commonly than the tissue closer to the tongue and palate.
As the outer layers of the gum tissue shed, you will most likely experience pain since nerves can be affected. The gum will also generally appear redder than normal and can look very aggravated.
Appearance of desquamative gingivitis
Desquamative gingivitis can differ in appearance to regular gum disease. With this condition you may notice symptoms such as:
- White patches on the gums
- Redness and inflammation of the outer gum tissue
- Atrophying of the gums
- Glazed appearance to the gums
- Increased sensitivity and even pain
- Formation of blisters on the gums
- Shedding of the gum tissue – known as desquamation
- Spaces appearing between the teeth
Who is at risk?
Although gum disease may be experienced by both genders, it tends to be women who suffer desquamative gingivitis more than men. The condition is most commonly seen in menopausal or post-menopausal women, but it is also infrequently observed in girls going through puberty.
There is clearly a hormonal influence at play here, but the exact reason for its frequency in middle-aged and older women is not yet clearly understood.
Other causes of gingivosis
Some women experience gingivosis as a result of fluctuating hormonal levels, but there are other potential causes of the condition as well:
- Sodium lauryl sulphate – this chemical, which is commonly included in health and beauty products as a foaming agent, has been noted as contributing to this condition in some patients. SLS is often used in toothpaste that is commercially produced; it is therefore best to select natural toothpaste to avoid this chemical ingredient.
- Radiation therapy – one of the many nasty side effects of this kind of medical care may be developing desquamative gingivitis.
- Crohn’s disease
- Presence of lichen planus, pemphigus or pemphigold spores in the mouth or elsewhere on the body’s soft tissue.
- Chronic ulcerative stomatitis
Sometimes this condition is confused for regular gum disease and this misdiagnosis delays the beginning of appropriate treatment. In some cases the treatment for regular gingivitis can actually make the desquamation worse.
Treatments for desquamative gingivitis
There are a couple of treatment options that may be offered by your dentist once you have been correctly diagnosed. Initially, the dentist is likely to request a sample be taken to determine the pathology of the infection. When they know whether lichen planus or other pathogens are at work, they can then prescribe effective medications or procedures to be undertaken.
In some cases cortico-steroid medications may be deployed to eradicate pathogens. These medications may need to be taken for an extended period of time – up to three months to see improvement.
In more severe cases, dental surgery can be very effective. This will often involve removing diseased gum tissue and then grafting healthy tissue onto the affected area.
In all cases you will have to work together with your dentist over an extended period of time to ensure that the condition is under control. Check-ups are generally required one month after treatment, then at three months, six months and nine months.
Long term prognosis for the condition is good, however, it is also very common for the condition to re-emerge and require follow up treatments during the first year after the initial treatment.
Protecting your gum health
In order to protect your teeth and gums from desquamative gingivitis and many other oral health problems, you should always brush, floss and use a mouth wash twice a day. In addition, choose your dental health products carefully, staying away from products that contain harsh chemicals such as alcohol and sodium lauryl sulphate.