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Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums (gingiva) around the teeth due to improper cleaning of teeth. The condition is generally reversible. Brushing teeth with toothpaste and flossing with dental floss are the best ways to prevent gingivitis. more...

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Gingivitis is usually caused by improper cleaning of teeth. When the teeth are not cleaned properly, the plaque irritates the gums. Bacteria and toxins may cause the gums to become red and swollen. Contributing factors include pregnancy and uncontrolled diabetes, due to hormonal changes that may increase the susceptibility of the gums or alter the composition of the dentogingival microflora. Hormonal changes during puberty also may put one at risk for gingivitis. The risk of gingivitis is increased by dental calculus, misaligned teeth, the rough edges of fillings, and ill fitting or unclean dentures, bridges, and crowns. The drug phenytoin, birth control pills, and ingestion of heavy metals such as lead and bismuth may also cause gingivitis.


The symptoms of gingivitis are as follows:

  • Swollen gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Bright-red, or purple gums
  • Shiny gums
  • Gums that are painless, except when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily, even with gentle brushing


Gingivitis can be prevented through regular oral hygiene, including the brushing and flossing of the teeth.


It is recommended that a dentist be seen after the signs of gingivitis appear. A dentist will check for the symptoms of gingivitis, and may also examine the amount of plaque in the oral cavity. A dentist may also test for periodontitis, by the use of X-rays, or by gingival probing.


A dentist or dental hygienist will perform a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums. Following that, persistent oral hygiene is necessary. The removal of plaque is usually not painful, and the inflammation of the gums should be gone between one and two weeks. Oral hygiene is required to prevent the recurrence of gingivitis. Anti-bacterial rinses or mouthwash may reduce the swelling.


  • Recurrence of gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Infection or abscess of the gingiva or the jaw bones
  • Trench mouth (bacterial infection and ulceration of the gums)


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Live healthy news
From Shape, 11/1/05 by Bethany Gumper

Bundle up!

Follow these three toasty tips to fight wicked winter cold: 1. Don't leave home without a snug-fitting hat (your head is the No. 1 place from which body heat escapes). 2. While layering is key, neglecting your bottom half is a common mistake. Wear tights under your favorite jeans for extra protection. 3. Once out on the town, it's best to keep hot toddies to a minimum; alcohol causes your body to lose heat much more rapidly.


* Researchers are perfecting iFind, a gadget designed for at-home breast-cancer detection. The hand-held device, which uses near-infrared light to measure blood flow in the breast, emits a tone when it detects increased blood volume that could signal tumor growth.

IFind detected 96 percent of the 44 cancers in 116 women who tested it, says Britton Chance, Ph.D., D.Sc., iFind's developer and professor emeritus of biochemistry, biophysics and radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "This might give women early warning that something is amiss," says Chance, who hopes it will be available within a year.

--Kathleen Doheny

ob-gyn shortage

rising malpractice insurance premiums for obstetrician-gynecologists are expected to result in shortages of these specialists in many states, as new doctors start their practices in more affordable locales, according to recent research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. States that are expected to be hardest hit include Florida, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, New York and the District of Columbia. If you're in a high-risk state:

* Develop a good rapport with your gynecologist by going to her consistently. This ensures that you'll get priority treatment.

* Talk to your doctor if you're thinking of getting pregnant. Many OB-GYNs now solely practice gynecology to save on insurance premiums.


trend report

female smokers butt out

For the first time in almost 40 years, fewer than one in five women smoke. However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in women. If you haven't kicked the habit, seize the day on Nov. 17 in honor of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. For tips, go to and click on "quitting smoking."

--Rachel Horn

Dye danger debunked

* If you're one of the 55 percent of women whose hair color is not, um, completely your own, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Contrary to some frightening reports in the past, a new Journal of the American Medical Association study found that dyeing your hair does not increase your risk for most cancers. Researchers in Spain analyzed nearly 80 studies done throughout 38 years and found that people who dye their hair had no increased risk of bladder, breast and skin cancers. While they did find a slightly higher risk for some blood, lymph and bone-marrow-related cancers, this may not hold up under further scrutiny, says lead researcher Bahi Takkouche, M.D., Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

--Leslie Pepper

November is American Diabetes Month

this is dlife


Now in its third season, dLife TV--airing Sundays at 7 p.m. EST on CNBC--is the first weekly talk show devoted to diabetes, which afflicts 18.2 million Americans. The half-hour program--featuring hosts such as Miss America 1999 Nicole Johnson Baker, who lives with diabetes--and its companion website,, offer health news, fitness tips, recipes and inspirational stories.


Be a diabetes do-gooder

Log on to for complete details about these American Diabetes Association good deeds.

* America's Walk for Diabetes, held across the country through Dec. 1, includes two-mile (or longer) walks sponsored by communities and businesses.

* Tour de Cure, a series of cycling events, ranges from a 10-mile course to a century (100-mile) ride. It will take place in more than 80 U.S. cities from April to June 2006.


oral health update

plug in to knock out plaque

* If you're still brushing with a manual toothbrush, it's time for an upgrade. Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed 29 studies to compare manual and powered toothbrushes with various bristle arrangements and motions. They found that within three months, powered brushes that used a circular, back-and-forth motion removed 11 percent more plaque than manual toothbrushes, and reduced gum inflammation (gingivitis) by 6 percent. After more than three months, the powered toothbrushes reduced gingivitis by 17 percent more than manual toothbrushes. Brushes that use the circular, back-and-forth motion include the Crest SpinBrush Pro ($6.48;, the Oral-B Cross Action Power ($6; and the Colgate Motion ($6;

--Judi Ketteler


Raisins may help reduce tooth decay, according to new research.

Lab tests show that compounds in raisins can inhibit selected oral bacteria often associated with cavities and gum disease, says Christine Wu, Ph.D., professor and associate dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. She plans to test the raisin compounds in people to see if cavities and gum disease decline. Meanwhile, Wu says, "consider raisins a healthy food," citing their vitamin [B.sub.6], iron and fiber stores. However, be aware that 1 cup of raisins packs 493 calories.


It's sniffle season:

drugstores move cold remedies behind counter

You may have trouble finding Sudafed or NyQuil this cold season. National chains such as Longs, Rite Aid, Target and Wal-Mart are stocking some or all pseudo-ephedrine products behind the pharmacy counter and may limit quantities or require ID to purchase. This could be because these cold medicines contain ingredients that can be used to make crystal meth. The stores are reacting to the more than 30 states that already legislate such restrictions or have laws pending.

--Fran Kritz


Depression can be a lonely illness, and sufferers often isolate themselves, making their situations worse. If you suspect a friend is depressed, don't let her shut you out. Here are four ways you can help.

1 BE PROACTIVE. "Find out all you can about the illness so you can give the appropriate support," suggests San Francisco-based clinical psychologist Bob Murray, Ph.D. Help her make an appointment for therapy--get referrals from the American Psychological Association ( or the American Psychiatric Association (

2 BE ENGAGING. Social interaction and exercise both can boost mental health, studies show. Invite your friend to take a walk or go to the movies.

3 BE CAUTIOUS. An estimated 15 percent of people hospitalized for depression eventually take their own lives. Report any suicide threats or attempts to a mental-health professional or call the American Association of Suicidology's hotline at (800) 273-8255.

4 BE OPTIMISTIC. Point out the person's strengths and tell her that things will get better. "When you're depressed, you need people to lift you up and make you feel worthwhile," says San Francisco-based psychotherapist Alicia Fortinberry, M.S.

--Alexa Joy Sherman

editor's tip

hands off!

When you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, is your first reaction to cover your mouth with your hands? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this technique actually spreads germs, because you're likely to leave traces on doorknobs, papers, chairs and anything else you touch. To reduce the risk of spreading bugs, try to sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow instead.



a laughing matter?

No kidding--more than half of asthmatics say laughter brings on symptoms, according to a recent study at New York University Medical Center in New York City. When pulmonologist Stuart Garay, M.D., surveyed 235 men and women, 58 percent reported laughter-induced asthma symptoms, especially coughing or chest tightness. A case of the giggles is as likely to cause asthma as fumes, grass and pollen, and more likely than cold air, dust mites, pets and mold. Controlling your asthma condition with prescribed medication and avoiding other known triggers will help keep symptoms at bay when something strikes you as funny, Garay says.

--Carol Potera

ask the ob-gyn

Q What should I do to prepare my body for having sex for the first time?

A The good news is your body is designed to have sex and enjoy it! First, check in with yourself. Why do you want to become sexually active at this point in time? Do you have any fears or reservations?

When you're certain you're ready, make sure you protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. I recommend using condoms along with a more effective form of birth control, such as the pill.

Remember that a woman's sexual response is slower than a man's. Physical changes occur during arousal that make intercourse pleasurable and not painful. The uterus lifts and moves out of the way and the vagina decreases in diameter and lengthens significantly. How long these changes take to happen varies, but experiencing vaginal lubrication, or becoming "wet," is only one of the very first signs of arousal. So take it slow, communicate with your partner and enjoy foreplay. A little light bleeding is normal for your first time, but doesn't always occur.

TRACY W. GAUDET, M.D., is the director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C., and the co-author of Consciously Female: How to Listen to Your Body and Your Soul for a Lifetime of Healthier Living (Bantam Dell, 2004).

Send your questions to Shape, Ask the OB-GYN, 21100 Erwin St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367; fax: (818) 704-7620; e-mail:


COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications
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