Gingivitis is a non-destructive periodontal disease usually caused by the buildup of plaque on tooth surfaces. If untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which is a destructive form of periodontal disease.

Causes of Gingivitis

  • Plaque
  • Medications
  • Malnutrition
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Genetic conditions
  • Traumatic lesions
  • Foreign body reactions


  • Swollen gums
  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Gums that are tender or painful to the touch
  • Bleeding gums or bleeding after brushing and/or flossing
  • Bad breath (halitosis)


A dental hygienist or dentist will check for the symptoms of gingivitis, and may also examine the amount of plaque in the oral cavity. A dental hygienist or dentist will also look for signs of periodontitis using X-rays or periodontal probing as well as other methods.

If gingivitis is not responsive to treatment, referral to a periodontist for further treatment may be necessary.


Gingivitis can be prevented through regular oral hygiene that includes daily brushing and flossing.

Preventing gum disease may also benefit a healthy heart. Poor oral health can lead to infections that can travel within the bloodstream and can increase the risk of cardiac events.


The focus of treatment for gingivitis is removal of plaque; therapies target the reduction of oral bacteria, and may take the form of regular periodic visits to a dental professional together with adequate oral hygiene home care.


  • Tooth loss, or decay
  • Recurrence of gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Infection or abscess of the gingiva or the jaw bones
  • Trench mouth
  • Swollen glands

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