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Home > Dental Conditions > Gum Disease > Gum Disease Symptoms & Causes > Information on Gingivitis
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Information on Gingivitis


What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease.

Gingivitis is an inflammation or infection of the gums (gingiva) that is an early stage of periodontal disease (gum disease). Healthy gums appear pink in color. Gingivitis causes the gums to become inflamed and swollen, and bleed easily while flossing or brushing your teeth.

Gingivitis is reversible and there is no permanent damage to the gums or teeth when treated early. If allowed to progress, the infection can advance below the gum line and cause periodontal disease.

Left untreated, gum disease can destroy the soft tissue, bone and ligaments that support the teeth. Teeth may become loose and then fall out. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Why Does it Occur?

Gingivitis often results from poor oral hygiene. Individuals who do not brush or floss their teeth regularly or correctly, increase their chances of developing gingivitis.

How Does it Happen?

A combination of bacteria, saliva and acids in the mouth form a sticky deposit called dental plaque that clings to the teeth. Plaque that is not removed from the teeth hardens into hard calculus (tartar), which irritate the gums.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms include gums that are tender, red and swollen. The gums may bleed when brushed or flossed, and it can also cause halitosis. In some cases, there may be no obvious symptoms.

How Do You Treat Gingivitis?

If you have inflamed gums or your teeth bleed during brushing or flossing, you need to visit the dentist or periodontist. The first step is to have the teeth cleaned professionally to remove the soft plaque and tartar. Brushing your teeth and flossing at home cannot remove the hard deposits or calculus. There are several new antibacterial medications on the market to treat the early stages of periodontal disease. These oral medications -- available via prescription from a dentist -- appear to be a short-term promise. However, there is no long-term evidence or studies that show the medications are effective.

How Do You Prevent Gingivitis?

The American Dental Association recommends:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day to remove the bacteria from the teeth
  • Cleaning between your teeth every day with floss to remove bacteria and food particles
  • Eating a well-balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks
  • Visiting your dentist on a regular basis for an exam and cleaning

If you're interested in gum disease treatment, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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