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Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums that is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria between your teeth and gums. Plaque on your teeth turns into tartar, a hard deposit that becomes trapped at the base of your teeth. Combined, plaque and tartar irritate and inflame your gums causing gingivitis. It is the mildest form of periodontal disease that, caught in its early stages, can be managed effectively. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to more severe stages of periodontal disease. 

Causes of Gingivitis

While the buildup of plaque is the leading cause of gingivitis, other causes that contribute towards the risk of developing gingivitis include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Viral or fungal infections
  • Poor nutrition
  • Aging
  • Fluctuations in hormones
  • Pregnancy
  • Substance abuse
  • HIV infection
  • Medication

Symptoms of Gingivitis

How do you know that you have gingivitis? While being the mildest form of periodontal disease, the warning signs of gingivitis include:

  • Gums that are swollen, puffy, or tender
  • Gums that are dark red
  • Gums that bleed when you are brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Gums that are receding
  • Gums that feel tender 
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • A change in your dental bite
  • Dentures that no longer fit comfortably

If you notice any of the signs or symptoms of gingivitis, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Early treatment can increase the chances of reversing the damage of gingivitis.

Treatment of Gingivitis

The main goal in treating gingivitis is reducing the inflammation of your gums. Your dentist will perform a cleaning to remove as much of the plaque and tar as possible. If your teeth are misaligned they may be repaired. Your dentist may recommend an antibacterial rinse for you to use at home. You will be encouraged to begin an oral hygiene program that includes brushing and flossing your teeth to keep your gums healthy and lessen the buildup of the bacteria that causes plaque. With professional treatment and good oral home care, gingivitis is reversible.


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