Gingivitis - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Is Gingivitis stealing your smile? Swollen, red, and unhealthy gums can cause bad breath and lead to many dental diseases if not appropriately taken care of. Good oral health gives you a bright, confident smile and depicts how healthy your oral health is. If you have swollen, inflamed gums, it can signify gingivitis. 


What is Gingivitis? 


Gingivitis is a gum disease that affects your oral health condition. It is categorized under periodontal disease, where a microbial plaque, due to habitation of bacterial colonies, is formed as a layer on the tooth's surface. The bacterial habitation triggers an immune response, causing your gums and teeth to swell, eventually destroying your gums and tissue. If not taken care of, it can lead to various other complications like the formation of calculus or tartar near the base of the gums and loss of teeth. Following good oral hygiene is found to be effective in reversing gingivitis.  


There are two main types of Gingivitis:


  1. Dental plaque-induced gingivitis: Use of specific medications (steroids), malnutrition (Ascorbic acid deficiency), and other systemic factors like diabetes, leukemia, pregnancy, and puberty is associated with this type of gingivitis.
  2. Non-plaque induced gingivitis: A biofilm of plaque formed due to systemic conditions like allergy, wounds, reaction to foreign bodies like dentures, and illness from a specific bacterium or a virus and fungi is associated with this type of gingivitis.

What are the common causes of Gingivitis?


The most common feature of gingivitis is the formation of dental plaques. The dental plaques can be formed due to:

    1. Hormonal changes: Women are more prone to gingivitis as they experience hormonal changes throughout their life during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. An imbalance or change in hormone levels in the body during these stages affects the blood supply which makes our teeth sensitive to catching an infection and inflammation.
    2. Diseases or illness: Conditions like Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes may alter the immunity of an individual making them prone to gingivitis due to bacterial manifestation on the teeth surface.
    3. Drugs: Certain medications may cause dry mouth and abnormal growth of gum tissue which are characteristics of gingivitis. These medications include contraceptive pills, anticonvulsant drugs, and chemotherapy drugs.
    4. Cigarette smoking: The smoke from the cigarettes contains impurities that stain the teeth and form plaque over time. Thus, regular  smoking is another cause of gingivitis that can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, and degeneration of teeth.
    5. Age: Advance aging is another major risk factor for gingivitis and other dental problems. As we age our dental health also tends to decline parallel. It is because of the wear and tear and loss of bone that we commonly observe. 
    6. Poor diet: Diet also influences our oral health. One must ensure to include Vitamin-C-rich foods in their diet to improve their oral and overall health. It is because it boosts the immune system and helps prevent gum disease by preventing bacterial growth.
    7. Family history: Gingivitis can sometimes be hereditary. If there is a history of gingivitis in your family then the likelihood of suffering from it increases in the younger generation. The reason behind this may be due to the type of bacteria that we acquire during our lives.
    8. Chewing tobacco: Tobacco contains impurities that stain the teeth and form into plaque over time. Thus, regular smoking is another cause of gingivitis that can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, and degeneration of teeth.

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis:

Gingivitis in the initial stages may not have any symptoms. However, a person may experience the following signs and symptoms in the advanced stages.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Swollen and tender gums that appear bright red to purple
  • The gums may become soft and painful due to inflammation 
  • Bleeding gums due to brushing or flossing
  • Bacterial induced Halitosis or bad breath
  • Receding gums results due to poor oral health and may lead to tooth loss


Gingivitis Treatment at home


Gingivitis can be reversed through proper oral care. You can try a few home remedies to get rid of that plaque formed on the surface of your teeth. Some of which include

  • Saltwater rinsing
  • To reduce pain and inflammation you can use lemongrass, aloe vera, clove oil, and tea tree oil mouthwash.
  • Oil pulling therapy with coconut oil can help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, eliminate toxins, and improve overall oral health
  • To help prevent plaque formation on the teeth surface and inflammation of the gums try applying turmeric gel or clove oil on the teeth.

Some other preventive measures recommended by dentists that can prevent gingivitis include:

  • Brushing your teeth two times a day
  • Choose an electric toothbrush over a manual one
  • To remove the debris collected in between your teeth, floss your teeth once a day.
  • Regularly rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash

Gingivitis: Treatment by the dentist

You must visit your dentist if the above-mentioned home remedies do not help you get rid of your gingivitis problem. Early treatment for gingivitis can prevent you from its adverse consequences. Your dentist may start the treatment by offering professional dental cleaning services which include teeth scaling and root planing. During the procedure, your dentist will remove all the traces of plaque and tartar, and bacterial deposition from the surface of your teeth. After which, your teeth and tooth surfaces are smoothened to inhibit any further buildup of tartar and bacteria. It also allows your gum to heal. The procedure is performed using advanced technologies like a laser or ultrasonic device.

If you have any misaligned teeth, poorly fitted crowns, or bridges, a dental restoration procedure may be carried out by your dentist. Once the treatment procedure is completed, Your dentist will help you plan an effective program for cleaning and regular professional check-ups. As long as you continue good oral hygiene at home, you will not experience gingivitis issues. 


Gingivitis is a problem due to poor oral hygiene. If you continue good oral hygiene practices at home, you will not experience gingivitis issues. Prompt treatment is the key to treating gingivitis. Log into MyDentalPlan to get the best treatment plan for your gingivitis problem.



About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.



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