What are the possible complications of gingivitis?

Updated: Jan 18, 2018
  • Author: James M Stephen, MD, FAAEM, FACEP; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
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  • Gingivitis is not a direct significant threat to the health of a healthy individual, but it can contribute to illness and cause local and systemic complications.

  • ANUG that progresses to noma is associated with a mortality rate as high as 70% without proper antibiotics and debridement.

  • The most common complication of chronic gingivitis is progression to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Areas of chronic gingivitis may predispose the individual to the development of odontogenic abscesses by allowing a route of bacterial invasion into the periodontal space from the gingival pocket. ANUG may be locally destructive and may result in local spread of infection into the surrounding tissues (Vincent angina and noma [cancrum oris]). Potential also exists for systemic spread of infection.

  • Osteomyelitis of alveolar bone may arise but is uncommon.

  • Any dental procedures involving manipulation that causes bleeding may result in endocarditis. The presence of gingivitis increases this risk by making the gingiva more likely to bleed with simple manipulation (eg, dental scaling). Bacteria containing plaque accumulation in the gingival pockets are in direct proximity to the areas of disrupted gingiva, increasing the likelihood of bacteria escaping into the general circulation.

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