Healthy Living

Gingivitis: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Gingivitis: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Key Takeaways

  • Gingivitis has no signs and symptoms in its early stages. 
  • Normal gingiva is pink in color.
  • Gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, and lead to tooth decay.

Gingivitis, or periodontal disease, is known as the inflammation of the gums. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene and poor dental care. This will lead to a formation of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film composed mainly of bacteria, which is also invisible. The bacteria forms on the teeth when starches and sugar in food interact with the bacteria normally found in the mouth. Plaque requires a daily removal, it forms very quickly, within 24 hours. Brushing your teeth every day will prevent the formation of plaque.

Plaque that stays longer than 24 hours can harden and even cause calculus. Tartar can also develop due to the minerals that are normally found in the saliva. When tartar develops, it makes it difficult to get rid of the plaques and brush them away from the teeth. Tartar is not removed by brushing and cleaning the mouth and teeth with a toothbrush. Tartar needs professional cleaning from a dentist to be removed.

The longer the plaque and the tartar remain in the teeth, the greater is the risk for the irritation of the gingiva, causing eventually gingivitis. Once gingivitis occurs, the signs and symptoms start to appear, leading to swollen and red gingiva, followed by bleeding. This entire event can lead to tooth decay.

Risk Factors

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor dental care
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Crooked teeth
  • Using certain types of medications, like cancer therapy drugs, steroids, and anti–epileptic drugs.

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis

Gingivitis in its early stages is usually painless, so you don’t even realize that you have it. Good oral hygiene and dental care followed by regular dental check–ups are very important in order to prevent and treat the infection of the gums in its early stages.

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Soft and puffy gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Easily bleeding gums
  • Change of the color of the gums from healthy pink to dusky red
  • Bad breath

Normal gums are pink in color and firm. If any change in its color or consistency occurs you might have gingivitis, regardless if you have other signs and symptoms or not.

How is gingivitis diagnosed?

Gingivitis is diagnosed based on the signs and symptoms, as well as from an examination of the teeth, gums, mouth, and tongue.

If not diagnosed and treated on time, gingivitis progresses gradually, eventually leading to an infection of the underlying tissue and bones, known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious infection, which leads to tooth decay.

How is gingivitis treated?

Proper diagnosis and treatment of gingivitis prevents its progression, and relieves its signs and symptoms.

Treatment includes an evaluation and a thorough dental cleaning to remove the traces of plaque and tartar, as well as fixing any damaged teeth with fillings and crowns.