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What is Gingivitis and What Causes It?

What is it?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and is the first stage of periodontal disease. While it is the easiest to treat, it can also cause numerous problems if ignored.

Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the gums, the tissues supporting the teeth, the periodontal ligament and the tooth sockets, or alveolar bone. Numerous Americans have some form of this disease, ranging from gum inflammation (gingivitis) to a more serious form (periodontitis) that results in teeth loss.

Windermere Dental, Windermere Pediatric Dentistry, Windermere Affordable Dentistry What causes it?

The bacteria in the mouth cause gingivitis. When the bacteria become plaque (the soft, sticky, colorless film that forms over teeth and gums), it can irritate the gum tissue and is a major cause of tooth decay.  Typically, daily brushing and flossing keeps plaque at bay, but if it is not removed, the plaque can turn into tartar. Tartar is a hardened form of dental plaque and can only be cleaned by a dental professional.

While gingivitis is usually caused by plaque, there are some cases where the culprit may be hormonal, such as those going through puberty, menopause and pregnancy. Diseases such as HIV, cancer and diabetes have been linked to developing gingivitis, as well as medications and a family history.

What are the symptoms?

In early stages of gum disease, discolored, swollen gums can characterize gingivitis. Gums that are bright red or purple in color, tender to the touch and bleed are often warning signs, as well as bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.

How can I prevent it?


Daily brushing and flossing reduces the amount of plaque in your mouth, making good oral hygiene very important. Try an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria in places the toothbrush and floss can’t reach. Eat foods for the health of your jaws and teeth and ensure that you have proper nutrition and a good diet. Avoid cigarettes and other forms of tobacco and schedule regular check ups for your mouth, usually every six months or so.

One or two weeks after a professional cleaning, patients typically find the tenderness and bleeding of their gums lessened immensely with any initial discomfort fading away. Warm saltwater rinses can reduce any gum swelling and return gums to their healthy, pink and firm look.

Dental hygienists may recommend special devices such as electric toothbrushes and water irrigations, as well as the use of anti-plaque or anti-tartar toothpastes and mouth rinses.

Now is the perfect time to schedule your next dental appointment at Winter Garden Smiles. Call us at 407-614-5955 to get started.

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