What is Gingivitis?

Posted on 10 September 2018

What is Gingivitis? Hero Image

Gingivitis is a mild but common form of gum disease that causes irritation, swelling and redness of the gingiva. The gingiva is the part of the gum around the base of the tooth. Gingivitis is not a serious condition however if it is left untreated, it can progress to a much more serious condition - periodontitis. Periodontitis is a gum disease that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the tooth and if left untreated, the bone around the tooth is progressively lost.

To avoid periodontitis, it is important to treat gingivitis as soon as you notice any symptoms. So, what are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Gingivitis

  • Red gums
  • Swollen or puffy gums, particularly around the base of the tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Gums are really tender and sore to touch
  • Discomfort when brushing teeth
  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see a dentist as soon as possible so that the infection can be treated and it doesn’t lead to something more serious.

While we want to treat gingivitis as soon as we notice symptoms, we’d prefer to not have any symptoms at all. Unfortunately, anyone can develop gingivitis however by having good oral hygiene, you are less at risk of developing it. These are some of the common causes and risk factors:

Common Causes & Risk Factors

  • If you are not exercising proper oral hygiene (flossing and brushing properly, twice a day) you are putting yourself at a higher risk of developing gingivitis. When plaque builds up on your teeth, it turns into tartar and collects bacteria. This tartar can only be removed by professional dental cleaning and the longer it remains there, the more it irritates the gingiva, causing gingivitis.
  • Generally, gingivitis is more common in people who smoke than those who do not.
  • Changes in hormones can have an effect in the development of gingivitis. During puberty, menopause or pregnancy, the gingiva may become inflamed, causing irritation.
  • Poor nutrition can play an effect - particularly among people who have a vitamin c deficiency.

To avoid gingivitis becoming a real problem, you should see your dentist as soon as you notice any irritation. Even if you think it may not be too serious, it’s better to seek treatment than to risk it becoming more problematic.