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Gum Disease Gingivitis Causes, Risks, Prevention, Treatment

What is Gingivitis?

Gum disease [Gingivitis] is an early-stage gum (periodontal) disease characterized by redness and inflammation of the gums, often accompanied by soreness and the gums retreating away from the teeth, or an appeared lengthening of the teeth. Normal, healthy gums are a pale pink colour and firm to the touch.

Visual indications of gingivitis include an angry red color to the gums, swelling and tenderness, and a soft, puffy texture to touch. Other signs include bleeding when brushing or flossing, indicated by a pink color to the toothpaste foam when spitting, and a pink color to the dental floss after flossing.

Sensitive teeth is a major and uncomfortable symptom of the condition, as receding gums pull back and expose the roots of your teeth up around the gum line, which allows hot and cold foods to stimulate the nerve endings and cause pain. Bad breath is another indication, as it is caused by the build-up of bacteria.


Gum disease [Gingivitis] is caused by the build-up of plaque. Plaque is the shiny, sticky film (sometimes referred to as biofilm) over your teeth that you can feel when you haven’t cleaned them recently. It is caused by the starches and sugars in food reacting with natural bacteria in your mouth, and forms quite quickly, in around 24 hours.

If plaque is allowed to build up on your teeth for too long, it hardens and becomes tartar, which is much more difficult to remove and acts as a shield for further build-up of bacteria. This can happen after just a couple of days, which is why it is important to clean thoroughly to ensure that all plaque is removed regularly, especially as build-up of bacteria in your gums also leads to bad breath. If the plaque and tartar are left for too long, they begin to irritate the gingiva, which is where your gums meet the teeth, and this is what becomes gum disease [Gingivitis].

Other factors that may contribute to this condition are poor diet, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes and old age. Generally, any substance abuse and underlying medical conditions, especially those that attack our immune system will likely cause Gingivitis.

 Associated Risks

Gum disease [Gingivitis] is not serious unless left untreated, and can usually be reversed with a thorough cleaning. However, without treatment it can lead to tooth loss and more serious conditions. The condition can progress to periodontitis, in which the infection spreads to other bone and tissue. Eventually this could lead to the gums separating from the teeth completely causing teeth to become loose and wobbly, and eventually fall out.

There is also research to suggest that this spread of infection can lead to much more serious health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and stroke, as well as premature birth and low-birth weight for pregnant mothers.


The obvious approach to preventing all of this is proper, regular and thorough oral hygiene practices. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is the minimum requirement for home dental care, and using an anti-bacterial mouthwash can provide additional cleanliness.

Flossing is important to ensure that all the plaque build-up in those hard-to-reach crevasses between the teeth is removed. It is also recommended to floss before brushing, to dislodge any food particles stuck between the teeth, and scrape away the plaque in between the teeth.

However, even if you stick to this regimen daily, it is worth visiting a dentist every six months anyway, as the teeth are an inaccessible and highly irregular surface of your body, and there might just be one or two corners you’re inadvertently missing on your regular clean. A dentist will spot these easily, and advise you to pay particular attention to those areas.

Treating Gum Disease

If all else has failed and gingivitis has developed to the stage where treatment is necessary, then a visit to the dentist for a professional cleaning is what is required. Diagnosis is easily made by inspection of the teeth and gums, and proper dental equipment will be used to conduct a scaling, which is the removal of all traces of plaque and tartar.

If gums are sensitive due to disease, a professional cleaning can be an uncomfortable process, so it’s best not to let infections reach an advanced stage. Some experts recommend a professional clean with every visit to the dentist, just to be on the safe side. This is especially recommended if you have any of the health factors that contribute to the risk of gum disease.


Gum disease [Gingivitis] and cavities are the main reasons why it’s essential to floss and brush your teeth twice a day, and all of these conditions are completely avoidable with proper oral hygiene. However, don’t forget to get regular check-ups from dental professionals, just in case there is that one corner of your mouth you’re failing to reach during your regular cleaning process. It never hurts to be thorough!

*The information provided in this article is not meant to be dental advice of any kind and was composed from research of information provided on the world wide web. Always consult your dentist for dental advice.

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