Gingivitis Causes & Treatment

Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums caused by plaque that accumulates on your teeth. Although gingivitis is a non-destructive type of periodontal gum disease, it can progress to a more severe form or periodontitis if left untreated. Learn more about gingivitis causes & treatment down below.

Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis

Patients with gingivitis will feel symptoms such as painful gums, and your local dentist will be able to see evidence of gingivitis, such as swelling of the gums around your teeth.

Signs & symptoms of gingivitis may include:

  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Bleeding gums brushing teeth or flossing
  • Tender gums (sometimes painful to the touch)
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen and receding gums

Most mild cases of gingivitis show no noticeable symptoms or irritation, so it’s important to have a checkup every six months so that a dentist can check for any early signs.

Causes of Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque between and around the teeth. When there is too much plaque buildup without treatment, the immune system will react with inflamed gums. Without proper treatment, it can severely irritate your gums and often lead to tooth loss.

Bacterial plaque accumulates naturally on the teeth and usually forms when bacteria sticks to the surface of a tooth. Although plaque is sometimes seen as helpful to protect your mouth from harmful bacteria, it can still cause tooth and gum decay. If plaque is not regularly removed, then it can accumulate into tartar, which will need to be professionally removed.

Other causes of gingivitis include:

  • Changes in hormones during puberty, menopause, the menstrual cycle or pregnancy
  • Some diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV) that are linked to a higher risk of developing gingivitis
  • Drugs and some medication, especially those that reduce saliva flow or dry out your mouth frequently
  • Smoking regularly
  • Family history of gingivitis

Treatment for Gingivitis


A dental professional will check for symptoms or signs of gingivitis as well as the extent of your plaque buildup. Dental x-rays may also be used to check for signs of periodontitis.

Treatment Options

If the patient is diagnosed early on, then gingivitis can be successfully treated and reversed by a dental professional. Follow-up procedures will be carried out by the patient at home.

Gingivitis care with a dental professional:

  • Plaque and tartar are removed, also known as scaling. Some patients may find scaling uncomfortable, especially if tartar build-up is extensive, or the gums are very sensitive.
  • Sometimes, a dentist will recommend that the patient set up an appointment to fix any crooked teeth, to ensure that oral hygiene is done effectively every day. Crooked teeth or poor dental work (such as crowns and bridges) can make plaque removal more difficult.

Home treatments to prevent gingivitis:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day
  • Regularly rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash

Do you think that you might have gingivitis? Contact our Elmwood Park dental office today to schedule an appointment with one of our professional dentists. We are located near Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Oak Park, Bellwood, Maywood, and River Forest IL.