What Is Gingivitis?

What Is Gingivitis?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Gingivitis starts innocently enough along the gum line, however once it turns into periodontal disease you can expect the entire mouth to be affected. Here is what you need to know about gingivitis – its causes, symptoms, and what you can do to prevent it.

Causes of Gingivitis

A traditionally prescribed dental care plan includes brushing at least twice a day, flossing, avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular dental checkups. Lack of, or poor, dental hygiene and care is the main cause of gingivitis. Failure to brush properly and floss can result in the build-up of plaque. If neglected, this plaque can accumulate into tartar, forming pockets that catch bacteria and lead to infection that can travel below the gumline and wreak havoc, eventually developing into full-blown periodontal disease. 

Symptoms of Gingivitis

The first signs of gingivitis include red, swollen gums that can feel tender and bleed when brushing or flossing. Bad breath is also noticeable in the early stages, the result of millions of bacteria that release toxins as they feed off the plaque buildup. Should teeth start to appear longer over time, it is a sign that gums are receding away from the teeth, creating small pockets that can trap food and bacteria and lead to a gradual breakdown of the jawbone. If a person’s teeth suddenly start to become sensitive to extreme temperatures of cold and hot, it may be due to gums having receded, exposing the dentin underneath.

Treatment for Gingivitis

If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, see your dentist right away. Your dentist most likely will perform a deep cleaning – a procedure known as scaling – during which he will use special instruments to scrape off tartar above and below the gumline. He may also perform a procedure called root planing to smooth out the roots of teeth below the gumline; this may help the gum reattach to the teeth. Know that none of these procedures is performed in a single visit – you will need to commit to a few visits to ensure the procedures are successful. Medication may also be prescribed to help restore teeth to their earlier, healthier state. If a tooth is found to be infected or damaged, you may require a root canal or extraction if the tooth can not be saved.


By far, the easiest way to prevent gingivitis and the more advanced periodontal disease is by maintaining healthy oral hygiene. Eating right, getting regular checkups and maintaining proper dental habits like brushing and flossing correctly at least twice a day are easy ways to put plaque at bay. If you live in the Twin Cities area and have avoided regular dental visits, or are searching for a new dentist for you or your family, check out Hagerman Dental. For more than 35 years, Hagerman Dental has been serving families in the Twin Cities area, resulting in thousands of happy, smiling patients. Call us today at (651) 646-2392, or request an appointment online to keep your smile beautiful and your gums happy.