Symptoms and Signs of Gingivitis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/24/2021

Doctor's Notes on Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. Signs and symptoms of this disease usually begins with

  • swelling,
  • redness,
  • pain, and
  • bleeding.

As the disease progresses, receding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth and/or tooth loss can occur.

The exact reason or cause of gingivitis has not been proved. Plaque, a mix of bacteria and sticky material, plays a role in its development according to many researchers. However, other factors can also play a role (for example, underlying diseases like diabetes, HIV, alcoholism, hormone changes, and certain drugs [steroids, phenytoin] can be associated with gingivitis development). Poor dental hygiene, crowded teeth, and dental work like ill-fitting devices can contribute to the disease development.

What Is the Treatment for Gingivitis?

Early in the development of gingivitis, if treated by a dental professional, symptoms and signs abate and prevent disease progression. Treatments may include the following:

  • Teeth cleaning (plaque and tartar removal) by a dental professional
  • Continual care (routine follow-up teeth cleaning, tooth brushing and flossing, electric toothbrush, water pic use recommended by some dentists, for example)
  • Dental restoration may be recommended (for example, treatments of underlying problems such as misalignment of teeth, missing teeth, and/or poorly fitting dental devices like crowns)
  • Other suggestions: Brush two to three times per day, use a mouth rinse daily (some suggest a saltwater rinse helps heal gingivitis), and do not smoke or chew tobacco.

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.