Gingivitis

(Gum Disease)

Definition

Gingivitis is a mild, often reversible form of gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a serious condition called periodontitis.
Gingivitis
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Causes

A substance that forms on teeth called plaque causes gingivitis. Plaque is a sticky material, composed of bacteria, mucus, food, and other substances. It hardens to form tartar or calculus. When plaque is left on the teeth for an extended period of time, it can lead to gingivitis. Toxins produced by bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue and cause infection, inflammation, and pain.

Risk Factors

Gingivitis is more common in older adults, especially men. Factors that increase your risk of gingivitis include:
  • Poor brushing and flossing
  • Stress
  • Clenching teeth together or grinding teeth
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • HIV infection
  • Improper bite
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Family members with gum disease
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Some medications taken for high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression
  • Some seizure medications
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Down syndrome

Symptoms

Gingivitis is often painless with symptoms developing when it becomes worse.Symptoms may include:
  • Swollen, puffy gums
  • Tender gums
  • Redness in the gums or around the teeth
  • Bleeding gums during brushing or eating
  • Gum tissue that recedes or changes shape
  • Persistent bad breath

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