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What Is Gingivitis and What Causes It?

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: April 9, 2009, Updated: September 7, 2017

In its mild form, gingivitis is a non-serious gum disease. Gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily, but there is usually very little or no discomfort. In some cases, a person may experience no symptoms, which is reason for concern since the condition may get worse and more serious damage can occur. Inflammation and infection caused by gingivitis can destroy mouth tissues supporting the teeth. Pockets or areas between the tooth and gum can develop, allowing bacteria to proliferate. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to more serious periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis.

What Causes Gingivitis?

The primary cause of gingivitis is improper oral hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque can build up. Plaque consists of food deposits, bacteria, mucus, and other matter that can build up on the visible parts of teeth. Tartar is the result of hardened plaque buildup. Gingivitis results from irritated, inflamed gums caused by this buildup. Additional potential causes include brushing teeth too roughly or using a toothbrush that is not soft enough.

Risk Factors

In addition to poor oral hygiene, several lifestyle and health factors can increase the risk of gingivitis. These include general illness and hormonal changes caused by uncontrolled diabetes, pregnancy, or menopause. Other risk factors include:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Poorly-fitting dental appliances
  • Broken fillings
  • Genetic factors
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Compromised immunity (e.g. HIV/AIDS)
  • Certain medications (e.g. oral contraceptives, steroids, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, and chemotherapy)

Gingivitis Symptoms

As mentioned, some people do not experience symptoms until damage has been done. The following common symptoms tend to worsen as gingivitis progresses untreated.

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums when brushing teeth
  • Chronic bad taste in mouth
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • A change in how teeth fit together when biting (malocclusion)
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Partial dentures that no longer fit

Advanced-stage symptoms include receding gums, nerve root exposure and sensitivity, and loose teeth that may fall out. The symptoms of advanced-stage gingivitis may be a warning sign or indication of periodontitis. In order to stop gingivitis from progressing, it is important to promptly seek proper dental care.

Available treatments for gingivitis are only effective if a person adheres to the plan. Typically, a dentist will prescribe a treatment plan comprised of these elements:

  • Prescription of an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Strict oral hygiene regimen
  • Proper brushing of teeth
  • Daily flossing
  • Regular dental cleanings by a professional

TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse: This powerful mouthwash contains Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC), an FDA approved ingredient that helps guard against gum disease and halitosis. Regular use of this powerful rinse reverses gingivitis, stops bleeding gums, and keeps gums healthy.

TheraBreath Periotherapy Toothpaste: Fortified with zinc and xylitol, this extra strength toothpaste helps destroy bad breath bacteria and conditions gums and oral tissue.

In extreme cases, oral surgery may be required to resolve gingivitis. Knowing the warning signs and taking proper care of your teeth and gums can prevent more serious gum disease.

Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only.  Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.

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