What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the name of a mild form of periodontal (gum) disease. The disease causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of the gums due to plaque buildup along and under the gum line. Bacteria live and flourish in plaque, which sticks to the teeth and attracts more bacterial growth. Gingivitis is a very common gum disease in the United States. It occurs more often in men than women.

Gingivitis develops due to several factors. Most commonly, people acquire gingivitis from poor oral hygiene resulting in a buildup of plaque along and under the gum line. Once the teeth become covered in plaque, inflammation of the gum and the possibility of infection result. This may lead to a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis, which, left untreated, may destroy the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets (alveolar bone).

The signs and symptoms of gingivitis can be very mild. The disease course varies among individuals. Some people may not be aware they have the condition, while others may have bleeding, swelling, tenderness, and mouth sores.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for gingivitis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of gingivitis?

Gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of gingivitis

The most common symptoms of gingivitis are related to disturbances in the mouth and include:


What causes gingivitis?

Gingivitis is caused by multiple factors that result in inflammation of the gums. Inflammation due to plaque accumulation on the teeth is responsible for many cases of gingivitis. Plaque is a biofilm made up of bacteria and is very sticky, allowing it to adhere to the teeth. The accumulation of plaque results in inflammation of the gum line, swelling, and bleeding. For this reason, gingivitis o... Read more about gingivitiscauses


How is gingivitis treated?

Treatment for gingivitis begins with seeking professional dental care from your dentist. To determine whether you have gingivitis, your dentist will examine your mouth and teeth. X-rays may also be performed to determine whether the inflammation has spread to the bones, ligaments, and other supporting structures of your teeth.

Good oral hygiene is the mainstay of treatment for gin... Read more about gingivitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health