Gingivitis (Gum Disease) – Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis, also called gum disease, is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque and tartar.  Plaque contains bacteria that irritate the gums, causing them to react by becoming red and inflamed.  Although gingivitis does not cause any permanent damage to the teeth and gums,  it often leads to periodontal disease, which does cause permanent damage, including tooth loss.  Therefore, it is important that it is treated to prevent it from becoming a more severe form of gum disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gingivitis?

Some people are not aware that they even have gingivitis until it is pointed out by their dentist. However, there are many symptoms you may notice that indicate you could have it, including:

  • Swollen gums that are red or purple in color
  • Tender or painful gums
  • Bleeding from touching the gums, especially after brushing or flossing.

What Causes Gingivitis?

Plaque is the main cause, but there are many other factors that can contribute to gingivitis as well, including:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing
  • Trapped plaque in areas which are hard to clean, such as around wisdom teeth and braces
  • Crooked teeth which make brushing and flossing more difficult
  • Smoking, which affects the body’s ability to heal gum problems
  • Family history of gum disease
  •  Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy
  • Illnesses including diabetes, HIV, and cancer
  • Some medications, including ones that cause xerostomia (dry mouth).

How Is Gingivitis Treated?

Gingivitis is a treatable condition that can be reversed with a thorough cleaning.  It is treated by removing the cause of the irritation, which is plaque.  If you have tartar as well, this will firstly need to be removed by your dentist or hygienist.

Another way to treat gum disease is to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth every day, as well as getting regular professional cleans.  This is important to reduce bacteria and to make the gums healthy again.  Your dentist may also recommend that you use a mouthwash, such as Corsodyl, to help treat gingivitis.