What is gingivitis?
Gum disease (periodontal disease) occurs when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and the gums (also called the gingiva). Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that can be reversed. It causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed.
How common is gingivistis?
This health condition is very common. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
The common symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down, or in the fit of partial dentures.
Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as the molars. Only a dentist or a periodontist can recognize and determine the progression of gum disease.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes gingivitis?
- Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:
- Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.
- Medications can affect oral health, because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia and Adalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
- Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
- Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.
What increases my risk for gingivitis?
There are many risk factors for gingivitis, such as:
- Poor oral health habits
- Tobacco use
- Older age
- Decreased immunity as a result of leukemia, HIV/AIDS or other conditions
- Certain medications
- Certain viral and fungal infections
- Dry mouth
- Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy, your menstrual cycle or use of oral contraceptives
- Poor nutrition
- Substance abuse
- Ill-fitting dental restorations
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is gingivitis diagnosed?
During a dental exam, your dentist typically checks for these things:
- Gum bleeding, swelling, firmness, and pocket depth (the space between the gum and tooth; the larger and deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease)
- Teeth movement and sensitivity and proper teeth alignment
- Your jawbone, to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth
How is gingivitis treated?
The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression. Treatment options depend on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage gingivitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with gingivitis:
Gingivitis can be reversed and the progression of gum disease can be stopped in nearly all cases when proper plaque control is practiced. Proper plaque control consists of professional cleanings at least twice a year and daily brushing and flossing. Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached; flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. Antibacterial mouth rinses can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.
Other health and lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk, severity, and speed of gum disease development include:
- Stop smoking. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gum disease than nonsmokers, and smoking can lower the chances of success of some 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 with antioxidant properties — for example, those containing vitamin E ( vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, 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.
Despite following good oral hygiene practices and making other healthy lifestyle choices, the American Academy of Periodontology says that up to 30% of Americans may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. And those who are genetically predisposed may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease. If anyone in your family has gum disease, it may mean that you are at greater risk, as well. If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist or periodontist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings, and treatments to better manage the condition.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Gingivitis. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gingivitis. Accessed June 23, 2017.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease). http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease#1. Accessed June 23, 2017.
Gingivitis. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/gingivitis. Accessed June 23, 2017.
Review Date: July 7, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019