When Extreme Gingivitis Becomes a Dental Emergency

Gingivitis is a typical dental complaint—very typical in fact. Some 20% of Australian adults are affected by gingivitis, and it's generally caused by poor dental care, as in not taking care of your teeth at home. Sure, it's a problem, but it's not a serious one. It could hardly be thought of as a dental emergency, could it?

Treating Gingivitis

Cases of gingivitis can usually be addressed during a standard check-up, combined with an improvement of the patient's at-home dental care. A dental scaling will be performed, removing plaque and tartar which relieves the inflammation of the gums prevalent with gingivitis. When this happens, taking better care of your teeth at home is generally sufficient to reverse the condition. Of course, some people don't take any action to combat their gingivitis, and in some cases, the condition can become quite serious.


Have you heard of ANUG? It stands for acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis. This is gingivitis at its most severe, and can pose a significant risk to a person's health. There can be fever and general discomfort, and your gums can actually become quite painful. There can be swelling, and your gums may bleed with only minor pressure. As the infection progresses, your lymph nodes can become swollen, and ulcers can break out in your mouth, indicating the actual loss of gum tissue. 

Rapid Onset

ANUG can seemingly develop quite quickly, even though the underlying cause (your gingivitis) has been progressing for many months, if not years. Given the way in which ANUG can affect your oral health on a number of levels, it can require a trip to an emergency dentist. Waiting and seeing isn't going to help, and delaying treatment is not recommended. How will a dentist tackle ANUG? 

Managing ANUG

Treating your pain will be your dentist's initial concern, and pain relief can be administered during your treatment. You will also be given a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, either by prescription or as an over-the-counter product. Antibiotics will be prescribed (since the infection has progressed to the point that this is mandatory), and your dentist will also recommend an antibacterial mouthwash. It's really about controlling the gingivitis to alleviate its worst symptoms before further treatment can be performed. When gingivitis has led to the loss of gum tissue, oral surgery can be required to reverse it.

For most people, gingivitis is a very minor, barely noticeable problem. And yet, when untreated gingivitis rapidly escalates to ANUG, emergency treatment can be vital. For more information, contact an emergency dentist.