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Definition: gingivitis from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Infection of the gums causing inflammation and bleeding. The gums retract from the teeth, which loosen and eventually fall out. It is caused by bacteria in the mouth.


Summary Article: gingivitis
from Dictionary of Microbiology & Molecular Biology

An acute or chronic inflammation of the gingiva (i.e., the gums) affecting areas of gum tissue (the ‘attached gingiva’) other than those immediately adjacent to the tooth–gum junction (which are referred to as the ‘free gingiva’); unlike PERIODONTITIS, gingivitis does not bring about a permanent loss of periodontal structures.

Acute herpetic gingivostomatitis occurs most commonly in children and generally lasts about two weeks. It involves reddening of the gingiva and the formation of vesicular lesions on various tissues within the mouth; systemic symptoms may include anorexia, fever, and the involvement of the submandibular and cervical lymph nodes. The causal agent is the type 1 HERPES SIMPLEX virus.

Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis occurs principally in young adults and is apparently stress-linked. It involves necrosis of the gingiva and the development of ulcers which usually become secondarily infected by spirochaetes. The primary aetiological agents are believed to include Bacteroides intermedius.

In chronic (non-specific) gingivitis the gingiva may show signs of oedema, hyperplasia or atrophy.

The severity of gingivitis often appears to correlate with stress and/or with hormonal influences; thus, e.g. the severity of the disease may increase during puberty or pregnancy.

Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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