Gingivitis: What Is It and What You Should Do!

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that occurs when plaque builds up on teeth and causes inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. Plaque build-up produces toxins that irritate the gums, causing them to bleed, become red and puffy. It can also lead to weakened tooth enamel.


Gingivitis is caused by the build up of plaque (naturally occurring sticky film containing bacteria) on your teeth and gums.  Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins that irritate teeth and gums. Gingivitis is the number one cause of bleeding gums in adults. Other factors increase the risks of developing gingivitis, such as:

  • Smoking and tobacco use. It can also lower the chances of successful treatment.
  • Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing or flossing regularly is an easily avoided fix.
  • Removing plaque completely. Be sure to have regular cleanings as well as brushing twice a day and flossing thoroughly once.
  • Stress. Constant stress can weaken your immune system and your ability to fight infection.
  • Hormones. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can increase sensitivity and inflame your gums.
  • Poor nutrition. A lack of proper nutrients makes it difficult for your body to fight infection.
  • Medication. Be sure to inform your dentist if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • Chronic disease.The body’s ability to defend itself against infectiion is impaired when fighting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer or HIV, just to name a few.


Gingivitis is painless and may not easily be detected by a non-professional. More than 75% of American suffer from it at some point in their lives. Regular check-up and cleanings by your dentist is recommended. Symptoms you should watch for:

  • Red and inflamed gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sore gums
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks.
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Treatment and Prevention

If you experience one or more of the symptoms above you should seek treatment from your dentist immediately. The best way to treat it is to catch it early! Your hygienist will remove tarter and plaque from your teeth and gum line with special tools. Your dentist can recommend products that will help lessen the plaque build up on your teeth and gum lines as well, such as:

  • Anti-gingivitis toothpaste
  • Anti-gingivitis mouthwash
  • Brush teeth and gum for at least 2 minutes
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
  • If you have sore gums or notice bleeding during brushing or flossing, don’t stop. Choosing a soft bristled brush will help. Be sure to see your dentist.
  • Check your gums regularly. Changes in color or texture can indicate issues your dentist may want to address.
  • Cut back on foods that contain sugar. Sugar promotes the growth of gingivitis causing plaque.


For more articles on dental health, see our main blog page.

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