Gingivitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues supporting the teeth and the gums. Gingivitis is also caused due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits on your teeth. Plaque develops on the exposed parts of the teeth and is a major cause of tooth decay.The plaque remaining in the mouth for more than 2 to 3 days becomes hard under the gum line, forming tartar, and through the influence of the tartar, plaque becomes a lot harder to get rid of by brushing.
Causes of Gingivitis

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can also contribute to it.

Hormonal changes: Changes such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more susceptible to gingivitis.

Illnesses:  Diseases that interfere with the immune system like diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar and so they are at a higher risk of developing infections.

Medications: Medications affect oral health because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Various drugs can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.

Harmful Habits: Habits such as smoking and excessive drinking make it harder for the gum tissues to repair themselves.

Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing and flossing on a daily basis may lead to gingivitis.

Family history of dental disease: There is a possibility that family history can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

The symptoms of gingivitis grow with time. The presence of one or all the symptoms could indicates the presence of another type of gum disease and this is why a proper diagnosis needs to be carried out to make certain of gingivitis.

• Red-purple or bright red appearance on the gums

• Bleeding gums (it can be seen while brushing your teeth)

• Swollen gums

• Mouth sores

• Shiny appearance on the gums

• Bad breath

• Tender gums, but painful to touch

These are the effects of the symptoms:

Trench mouth – This is when the gum is bleeding and/or swelling, also accompanied by bad breath and severe pain.

Gum recession and loose teeth – As the gingivitis worsens, the gums recede, leading to  loss of the supporting bone structure.


Abscesses – This is the deepening between the periodontal pockets of the gums. Food particles block the bone, leading to the death of the white blood cells, which fight infections. An abscess then develops when pus forms. Abscesses can destroy both tooth and gum tissue, causing the nearby teeth to become loose and painful



Preventing Gingivitis

Maintain oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gingivitis.

Brush & floss: Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day is also helpful.

Stop smoking. Tobacco use raises the risk factor of developing periodontitis. Smokers are several times more likely to get gum disease than non-smokers and smoking can lower the chances of success of some of the treatments.

Reduce stress: Stress may make it difficult for your body’s immune system to fight off infection.

Maintain a well-balanced diet: Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection. Eating foods that contain vitamin E like nuts, green leafy vegetables or vitamin C like citrus fruits, broccoli and potatoes can help your body repair damaged tissue.

Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth: These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.

Use of Special Devices: If you are prone to plaque deposits, special devices may be recommended, which includes special toothpicks, toothbrushes, or other devices.

Use of Special Toothpastes: Antiplaque or antitartar toothpastes or mouth rinses may also be suggested.

If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings and treatments to improve your condition.



• The dentist will clean your teeth by using different tools to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.

• Careful oral hygiene is necessary after tooth cleaning. The dentist will explain how to brush and floss.

• Professional tooth cleaning in addition to brushing and flossing may be recommended twice a year or more frequently for severe cases of gum disease.

• Antibacterial mouth rinses may be also be recommended.

• Repair of misaligned teeth or replacement of dental and orthodontic appliances may be recommended.

Most people have some amount of gingivitis. It usually develops during puberty or early adulthood due to hormonal changes. It may persist or come again frequently, depending on the health of your teeth and gums. Hence, it is strongly recommended that one must take necessary measures to maintain oral hygiene along with necessary treatments, if suggested by the dentist.



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