Table of Contents
Bacterial diseases of the gums
Periodontal disease is presented in this section as an aid to those who come here looking for images of gum problems they may have noticed, and do not know where to find information. This site contains two entire pages devoted to periodontal disease, including one that explains the causes of periodontal disease and one on how it is treated. Periodontal disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. This site includes a page on correct techniques of oral hygiene that can prevent and even reverse periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is caused by a chronic buildup of plaque around the teeth and is characterized by a red, sometimes swollen appearance of the gums immediately around the necks of the teeth. It is easily cured by good oral hygiene, but left untreated, it generally leads to periodontal disease and eventual loss of the teeth. Gingivitis is not contagious.
Outright periodontal disease may effect a single tooth, or any number of teeth. It begins after about the age of 25, and becomes serious between the ages of 35 and 50. Periodontal disease is painless in its early stages. It is the outcome of a lifetime of poor oral hygiene, and begins with simple gingivitis. In periodontal disease, the gums recede down the roots of the teeth, and the teeth appear to be longer than normal (click on the image above to see more about this image). Since the bone that maintains the teeth is effected by periodontal disease, the teeth become loose, and eventually painful. Periodontal disease is not contagious.
Bad breath is a chronic problem for persons with periodontal disease. However, periodontal disease is not the only cause of bad breath, a I have written an entire page devoted to the various causes and treatment of bad breath.
Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis is often called Trench Mouth. In ANUG, the gingiva immediately surrounding the teeth becomes necrotic (dead). ANUG is often found in people with poor oral hygiene who are either ill or under extreme physical or emotional stress. (It was named “trench mouth” because it was common in soldiers who fought in the trenches during world war I. These men were certainly under extreme physical and emotional stress, and had little opportunity to brush their teeth.)
ANUG, being a bacterial infection, is very easily treated by gentle cleaning of the teeth and irrigation of the affected gums with 3% hydrogen peroxide. The bacteria that take advantage of a patient’s run-down condition tend to be anaerobic which means that they die in the presence of oxygen. Hydrogen peroxide liberates oxygen (hence the bubbles) when it is exposed to blood, and the oxygen acts as an antiseptic and speeds healing of the damaged gum tissue. The patient is sent home with a prescription for Penicillin and instructions on cleaning the teeth to prevent further problems. It is essential that the patient return to the dentist after the initial infection for a professional cleaning to avoid a reoccurrence of the disease. ANUG is not contagious.
Dentists today rarely see cases of ANUG, however the disease is making a comeback in communities in which there is a lot of drug addiction. It is especially prevalent in populations of methamphetamine addicts and is a part of the syndrome now known as Meth Mouth.
Acute Necrotizing Oral Stomatitis
This is a sight we never see except in a hospital setting. This man’s mouth is being eaten alive by the same bacteria that his immune system would ordinarily have no problem keeping at bay if it were functioning normally. The difference between a dead body and a live one from the point of view of everyday environmental bacteria is a functioning immune system. AIDS attacks the immune system, and unless the disease and the bacteria can be kept at bay by modern drug therapy, the human body has no defense against parasitic bacteria and viruses.