Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. This inflammation is primarily caused by plaque buildup on the teeth arising from bacterial infections. There are also some secondary causes that we will address later in this article. Gingivitis itself is not a severe periodontal disease as many have misunderstood it to be. However, if left untreated, it can develop into more severe periodontitis. Many adults are affected by gingivitis at some point in their lives. It has mild symptoms that can be easily diagnosed and treated, so that there are no further complications. 

Causes Of Gingivitis 

Gingivitis is caused by the buildup of plaques on the teeth. These plaques are formed when the bacteria in the mouth interact with carbohydrates from starchy foods. It could also be an interaction with acids and other food debris. 

Plaques can harden into tartar at the base of the teeth, near the gum. The tartar can be felt with your tongue or viewed in a mirror. They cause gum tissue infection, which makes the binding of the teeth to the gum loosen. If proper care is not administered, the teeth may eventually fall off.

Some other causes and risk factors of gingivitis include:


Regular smokers are at higher risk of gingivitis than their Non-smoking counterparts. 


Diseases such as cancer and diabetes increase the chances of inflammation in the mouth.


The tendency for inflammation increases with age. The older you get, the greater the odds of you having gingivitis.

Genetic Factors

If either or both of your parents had gingivitis, then you’re likely to develop it too since you must’ve inherited their genes.

Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth reduce brushing and flossing efficiency, thus allowing plaques to form and grow. 

Hormonal Changes

At puberty, pregnancy and menopause, the gums might become very sensitive. This also increases the chances of inflammation in the mouth. 

Poor nutrition

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to gum and dental diseases like periodontitis. 

Dry mouth

Insufficient saliva in the mouth allows plagues to form without resistance.

Signs And Symptoms of Gingivitis 

Mild cases of gingivitis have fewer or no symptoms at all. However, when it gets more serious, some obvious signs are;

  • Gum inflammation and discoloration
  • Gum bleeding while brushing and flossing
  • Soft, tender and swollen gums
  • Loose teeth 
  • Bad breath even after brushing–halitosis
  • Sensitive teeth 
  • Chewing pains
  • Painful and receding gums

Prevention Of Gingivitis

Gingivitis can be easily prevented by straightforward methods. The processes may seem extreme and complex, but they are not. Some ways to prevent gingivitis are;

Observing Good Oral Hygiene

You should brush your teeth at least twice every day–every morning before meals and at night before going to bed. And floss your teeth regularly. Flossing before brushing helps to remove hidden bacteria. However, if you have some further complications, brush and floss your teeth based on your doctor’s instructions. You should also rinse your mouth regularly with an antiseptic mouthwash. And don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three months. 

Visiting Your Doctor Regularly

Ensure to see your doctor every six months for your medical checkups. This is especially important if you have risk factors that increase your chances of developing gingivitis. Some risk factors are genetics, underlying medical conditions, and health complications. If you do, you should visit your doctor more than twice yearly. 

Treatment Of Gingivitis 

Proper oral hygiene can help cure the disease successfully at home if the condition is diagnosed early enough. However, if the home treatment proved abortive or there are some complications, you will have to visit a dentist for professional care. Dentists administer treatment by:

  • Medication
  • Periodontal Surgery


There are various medications which you can use to treat gingivitis. To know if the medications are effective, they should possess some or all of the following:

  • Chlorhexidine

An antimicrobial that controls plaque and gingivitis in the mouth. 

  • Doxycycline

An antibiotic that prevents tooth damage caused by enzymes. 

  • Hydrogen peroxide

An antiseptic that helps relieve minor mouth irritation. 

  • Stannous Fluoride

Helps prevent plaque, cavities and tooth decay

  • Delmopinol

Forms a barrier on the teeth and gum surface preventing plaque formation. 

  • Minocycline

It helps to prevent bacteria growth and the formation of plaque. 

Periodontal Surgery 

This is a procedure to restore the look of your teeth, gums, and bone which were damaged due to severe gum disease. The following are some dental surgery options that your doctor might recommend to you

  • Dental crown lengthening
  • Gum flap surgery
  • Gum grafting
  • Boone and tissue graft 
  • Soft tissue graft


Gingivitis is not a deadly infection nor a horrible medical condition, as the name might have appeared to you. It is a minor infection that, if adequately managed, can prevent it from developing into Periodontitis, which is much worse. Simple oral hygiene is your best bet for dealing with gingivitis. Brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss regularly, and most importantly- visit your dentist!