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What Is Gingivitis?

Symptoms of gingivitis can start with just a mild inflammation of the gum tissue. Many people do not initially realize they have gingivitis, because it’s rarely a painful condition. But as the symptoms progress, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis as well as the loss of teeth due to infected gums. By being aware of the causes of gingivitis and learning proper oral care, you can decrease your chances of gum disease and other health issues.

Plaque forms on your teeth every single day, created when bacteria in your mouth mix with the foods you eat (especially sugar). Plaque typically forms within 24 hours, so it is extremely important to brush every day. If the plaque is left to harden, it becomes tartar, a layer of protection for bacteria. This buildup can lead to gingivitis.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

  • Swollen gums: As gingivitis worsens, you may notice a swelling of the gum tissue near your teeth.
  • Tender gums: While gum disease is rarely painful, gums may be tender to the touch or when flossing.
  • Bleeding gums: Your gums often bleed, even during gentle brushing, as well as during flossing.
  • Bad breath: Gingivitis can cause pocketing to occur between your teeth and gumline. If food gets stuck in those pockets, it can cause bad breath.
  • Discoloured gums: They will appear either bright red or even purple.

Tips for Gum Disease Prevention

  • Brush twice a day and floss once a day: Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush that won’t further irritate your gums. Some dentists also recommend using electric toothbrushes, which are better equipped to remove plaque. When you floss, make sure you wrap the floss around both sides of each tooth and use a push-pull motion to remove as much plaque as possible.
  • Visit your dental office at least every six months for a cleaning: Dentists and dental hygienists can remove hard-to-reach and hard-to-remove plaque and tartar that toothbrushing can’t.
  • Use a mouthwash daily: Mouthwash is another way to kill the bacteria in your mouth. Fewer bacteria means less plaque.

While proper oral hygiene is essential, there are other risk factors that can influence whether or not you get gingivitis, including diabetes, tobacco use, viral and fungal infections, decreased immunity, age, substance abuse and poor nutrition.