Understanding Gingivitis: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease that happens when plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth causing infection. This may negatively impact your oral health and lead to a series of consequences if not detected and treated on time. 

The family dentist in Philadelphia, PA, and their team of dedicated specialists strive to offer their patients timely diagnosis and treatment for gingivitis. Read on to learn more about this common dental problem. 

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease that may begin as swollen, red, and bleeding gums. This usually manifests due to increased plaque, tartar, and bacteria buildup, releasing harmful acids that erode the gums.  It is a common dental problem wherein almost half of all adults older than 30 develop some form of gum disease. 

What causes gingivitis?

Gingivitis is most often seen as your body’s inflammatory response to plaque and tartar on your teeth. The acids and toxins released as by-products may irritate your gums and erode them if not treated on time. 

You may face a higher risk of developing gingivitis if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Are pregnant 
  • Have a family history of gum disease 
  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Consume alcohol 
  • Have poor oral hygiene habits 

What are the symptoms of gingivitis?

You may not notice any symptoms in the initial stage of gingivitis, however, as the condition worsens you may develop:

  • Red, swollen, inflamed gums 
  • Tender, sore, and painful gums
  • Bad breath
  • Gums bleed easily 
  • Increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods 

How is gingivitis diagnosed?

If you have gingivitis symptoms consult your dentist for further evaluation. Your dentist will clinically inspect your oral cavity for:

  • Bleeding 
  • Signs of gum infection like bleeding 
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum recession 

X-rays may be required to assess the jawbone involvement, and you might be referred to a periodontist for further management. 

How is gingivitis treated?

Treatment for gingivitis aims to control the infection and restore healthy teeth and gums. 

Treatment options include:

  • Scaling 
    • Supragingival
    • Subgingival 
  • Root planing 
  • Antimicrobial mouthwash 
  • Gum grafts and bone grafting for severe cases 

Can you prevent gingivitis?

You can prevent the development of gingivitis through the following tips:

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly twice daily
  • Brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Manage diabetes 
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco 
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Limit foods and drinks with excess sugar content 
  • Visit a dentist at least once a year for checkups 


Bacteria is everywhere. Even your oral cavity is not spared. However, good oral hygiene can stop bacteria from causing gingivitis. Know the early signs of the condition to seek dental help at the right time to prevent further deterioration. 

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