Gingivitis- Symptoms, Causes, and Cure

Gingivitis is a common gum disease (periodontal disease) that affects one's gingiva- the part of the gum around the base of your teeth

Gingivitis is a common gum disease (periodontal disease) that affects one’s gingiva- the part of the gum around the base of your teeth. Although, it is usually in a mild form and causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of the gingiva, taking it seriously and treating it promptly is equally important. Or else, gingivitis can lead to much more serious gum disease called periodontitis and tooth loss.

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Hence, it is important to adopt good oral health habits such as brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and getting regular dental checkups in order to prevent or reverse gingivitis.


The easy-to-recognize signs and symptoms of gingivitis are:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Dusky red or dark red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
  • Tender gums
  • Receding gums


Gingivitis is a result of poor oral hygiene that encourages plaque to form on teeth that causes inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. Here are a few causes of how plaque can lead to gingivitis:

Plaque forms on your teeth

Plaque is an invisible, sticky film composed mainly of bacteria that forms on your teeth due to starches and sugars in food interacting with bacteria normally found in your mouth. Plaque re-forms quickly every day which is why it requires daily removal.

Plaque turns into tartar

Plaque that stays on teeth can harden under the gumline into tartar (calculus), which collects bacteria. It is more difficult to remove plaque when it turns into tartar. It also creates a protective shield for bacteria and causes irritation along the gumline. At this point, you need professional dental cleaning to remove tartar.

Gingiva becomes inflamed (gingivitis)

The longer plaque or tartar remains on the teeth, the more irritation forms in the gingiva, causing inflammation. It can cause swelling in the gums and bleeding may occur as well. Tooth decay (dental caries) may also be the case. Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis and eventually result in tooth loss.


Adopt good oral habits to prevent gingivitis. Here are a few things to not avoid:

Good oral hygiene

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes- in the morning and before going to bed. Flossing at least once a day can prevent teeth from decaying by removing any food particles stuck between whities.

Notably, flossing before brushing allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.

Regular dental visits

It is good to visit a dental hygienist every six to 12 months for cleanings. However, if you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having a dry mouth, taking certain medications, or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often.

Meanwhile, having a dental X-ray annually can help identify diseases that are not seen by a visual dental examination. This will help the dentist identify the issue and treat it accordingly.

Good health practices

Eating healthy and managing blood sugar, especially if you have diabetes, are also important to maintain gum health.

Also Read: Tips for healthy gums and teeth

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