Gingivitis simply means an inflammation of the gums. Gums are part of the soft tissue lining of the mouth; it surrounds and provides a seal around the teeth. Gingivitis occurs when there is poor oral hygiene, which leads to the accumulation of dental plaque: the plaque builds up between the teeth and gum.It is a non-destructive type of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is common in people who do not brush or floss their teeth often. The infection can re-occur when not treated and can result into serious gum disease or tooth loss.


1. Dental plaque induced gingivitis: This type of gingivitis disease is very prevalent and is initiated by dental plaque. The clinical features of this condition include gum redness, swelling and bleeding on probing, other factors such as systemic disease, hormones, genetics, drugs and malnutrition may influence the signs and symptoms of the disease.

2. Non plaque induced gingivitis lesion: This type of gingivitis is caused by bacteria, viral, and fungal infections, genetic disorders and mucocutaneous disease such as lichen planus.


The most common cause of gingivitis is lack of proper oral hygiene and this tends to encourage and promote plaque buildup. A plaque is a layer that sticks to your teeth from food, germs and mucus. Over time this build up can lead to infection. Other causes include hormonal changes and genetics. Some disease conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV have also been linked with gingivitis.


1. Bad breath

2. Red and swollen gums

3. Gums that bleed easily when you floss or brush

4. Receding gum

5. Gums that are tender when touched.


Factors that can increase the risks of gingivitis include the following:

1. Vitamin C deficiency

2. Smoking

3. Old age

4. Dry mouth

5. Poor diet.


If you suspect gingivitis infection, report to your dentist who will examine your teeth, gums, mouth and tongue to check for signs of plagues and other pathogens associated with gingivitis infection in the oral cavity. Dental x-ray may be required to see deeper into the oral cavity. When the cause of gingivitis is not clear other test can be required to ascertain the cause of the infection.


Treatment involves care by a dental professional through scaling and root planing. Scaling helps in removing the tartar and bacteria from the tooth surfaces and beneath the gums(tartar is a yellowish or brownish coloured deposit that forms when a plaque mineralizes on the teeth) whereas root planing helps in removing the bacterial products produced by inflammation thereby discouraging further buildup of tartar and bacteria.

Care at home

Apart from going to see a dental professional, there are steps that can be taken at home to prevent or reverse gingivitis. It includes:

1. Brush at least twice a day

2. Use an electric toothbrush which may be effective at removing plaque and tartar

3. Floss teeth at least once a day

4. Regularly rinse mouth with an antiseptic mouth wash

5. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.


Gingivitis can be prevented with the following measures:

1. Practice regular oral hygiene which include daily brushing and flossing

2. Visit your dentist regularly for teeth cleaning every six to twelve months

3. Practice good eating habit

4. Avoid smoking or chewing of tobacco

Medically Reviewed by Doctor Seun.

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