What Is Gingivitis?

Learn What Gingivitis is and How to Prevent It

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of gingivitis. STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Too often, many people ignore the early signs and symptoms of gum disease, which is also known commonly as gingivitis, simply because they do not know what gingivitis is and thus do not recognize the signs. 

The statistics regarding gum disease are shockingly high. In fact, gum disease, or gingivitis, plagues around 75% of all adult Americans, and it has also been connected to some serious diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

It is important to learn how to recognize the signs of gingivitis, along with ways to halt and prevent it from developing and progressing into a more serious form of gum disease.

What is Gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is a reversible form of gum disease affecting only the attached and free gingival tissue that surrounds your teeth. Bacteria that invades the area below your gumline, which is known as the sulcus or periodontal pocket, causes gingivitis to develop and eventually manifest into periodontitis, if left untreated.

 Causes and Warning Signs of Gingivitis 

The early warning signs of gingivitis are often mistaken as normal occurrences one should expect when it comes to the mouth. Symptoms of gingivitis include:

There are several causes of gingivitis The causes associate with gingivitis vary, but typically include:

  • Trapped plaque in hard to reach places, such as around the wisdom teeth, above and below orthodontic bands and brackets, or fixed appliances
  • Teeth that are crooked or overlap each other
  • Certain medications that cause xerostomia or gingival enlargement
  • Tobacco use
  • Conditions such as diabetes may cause gingivitis
  • Pregnancy and oral contraceptives

Book an Appointment with a Dentist 

Even though you may recognize these early warning signs as gingivitis, it is important that you book an appointment with your dentist for a check up. Why? There is a fine line between gingivitis and periodontitis.

It is important to note that gingivitis is a reversible condition that is treated with professional cleanings to remove plaque and calculus build up, along with regular home maintenance that may include a prescribed antibacterial mouth rinse known as chlorhexidine gluconate. Your dentist is able to confirm the extent of your gum disease and plan proper treatment accordingly. However, if left untreated or improperly treated, gingivitis will develop and progress into periodontitis, which, unlike gingivitis, is irreversible and often leads to tooth loss.

Obtaining regular dental check ups will help keep gum disease under control or eliminated completely. If you are concerned about gingivitis, be sure to speak with your dentist or dental hygienist about the issue at your next dental appointment.


The American Dental Association. Periodontal (Gum) Diseases

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