What is gingivitis?

Brian Maurer
May 6, 2021
Oral Health and Lifestyle Advice
minute read

Almost half (46%) of people over age 30 have some form of gum disease. With the accessibility and affordability of modern dental care, this statistic might be surprising.However, it is all too easy to disrupt the balance of both the good and bad bacteria that live in your mouth, which is why gingivitis is so common.

Plus, it often comes silently and unnoticed by the patient until more serious symptoms develop. Here’s what you need to know to help protect your oral health.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

What is gingivitis? This dental issue, also known as gum disease, is a mild form of periodontitis. It is an inflammation of the gums that may or may not be painful. Severe periodontitis involves gum infections, rot, and eventually tooth loss if left untreated.

Gingivitis is very mild but is often a precursor to more serious problems in your mouth, so take note! Your body is trying to tell you something.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Let’s be honest here. Most gum disease is completely preventable by you, it’s just a matter of keeping up with yourdental hygiene.


Your mouth is full of bacteria, (think about that the next time you want to kiss somebody!) There are both good and bad types of bacteria and when the bad begin to proliferate, boom! You end up with gingivitis.

Every day, the sugars and starches in foods react with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. This sticky substance adheres to your teeth and eventually turns into hard tartar if not removed daily. The tartar creates a protective shield for bad bacteria to live happily while they begin to destroy your teeth.

This buildup of tartar and plaque on your teeth begins to irritate the gums, leading to gingivitis.

Your risk of developing gingivitis is affected by several factors. These include:

●     Poor dental health habits

●     Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco

●     Improper nutrition

●     Getting older

●     Dry mouth

●     Family history of gingivitis

●     Poorly fitted dental restorations

●     Some types of medication

●     Hormonal changes instigated by puberty, pregnancy, birth control pills, or other factors

Gingivitis Symptoms to Look Out For

How do you know if you have gingivitis? Your gums may look a little red and inflamed. As gingivitis progresses, your gumsmay become swollen, tender, and bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth. Eventually, they may begin to recede. You (or the people around you)also may notice bad breath.

How Gum Disease Can Affect the Rest of the Body

While tooth loss and inflamed gums are bad enough, gum disease can affect the rest of your body. Researchers have also been discovering a link between gum disease and various systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease!

Since these all rank among the top 10 leading causes of death in the US, it’s something to pay attention to.

How can problems in your mouth have such an effect on the rest of your body? Bad bacteria can enter your bloodstream through tiny little cuts that open in your irritated gums. Once that happens, the bacteria can affect many systems in the body exacerbating or causing any number of issues.

Common Treatments for Stopping Gum Disease

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to stop and even reverse gum disease. Learn how to get rid of gingivitis here.

Good Oral Hygiene

The first is to brush and floss your teeth every day. It really is that simple. Plaque and tartar on your teeth give bad bacteria a place to hang out. Remove it regularly and they don’t have a home.If you notice that your gums look a little swollen or bleed easily, step up your oral healthcare routine.

Electric Toothbrush

If you don’t already use one, you might consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque and helping to reduce the occurrence of gingivitis.


Another option is to start using mouthwash. An antiseptic mouthwash will help kill the bad bacteria living in your mouth. Dry mouth can exacerbate problems with bacteria so be sure to choose an alcohol-free version of mouthwash if you already suffer from dry mouth.

Dentist Visit

You can also visit your dentist for a cleaning. Over time, plaque turns into tartar, a very hard substance that can be difficult to remove from your teeth with brushing and flossing alone.However, a dental professional can remove it with special instruments and tools.

Many times, a regular dental cleaning is sufficient. If the situation is bad enough, they may perform a procedure called scaling and planing. This involves scraping the plaque and tartar off the teeth(even under the gums). The teeth are then smoothed (planing) to encourage the gums to reattach as well as discourage the adherence of new plaque.

Do You Have Gingivitis?

Do you suspect you have gingivitis? You can find out without having to visit an in-person dentist through our unique service.

Send us a saliva sample and we’ll tell you what kinds of bacteria are thriving in your mouth and if gingivitis — or any other issues — are something you should worry about. Armed with this knowledge, you can learn how to treat gingivitis and begin at-home treatments to combat these issues and restore a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth.

Check it out today!

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