Gingivitis – Prevention, Causes, Consequences

Gingivitis: what is it?

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums . These become red, irritated, swollen when they are normally firm and pale pink. They can bleed easily, especially when brushing teeth.

Gingivitis is very common . Sometimes asymptomatic, it can progress, if not taken into account, into more serious diseases that are more difficult to treat, such as periodontitis. Left untreated, the infection can indeed spread to the gums, bones and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Gingivitis is ultimately the earliest stage of gum disease.

Gingivitis is caused by the presence of dental plaque . Plaque is a sticky film made up mainly of bacteria, but also of salivary proteins, sugars and acids, which builds up on the teeth.

This dental plaque thickens and hardens to form tartar if the teeth are not properly and regularly brushed. It is tartar that is responsible for the appearance of gingivitis. The more tartar is present on the teeth, the more it attacks the gums. The best way to fight against gingivitis is therefore to have good oral hygiene and to brush your teeth regularly . This simple gesture makes it possible to remove dental plaque and reverse the progression of gum disease.


The diagnosis starts from the symptoms described to the dentist. Then the professional examines the teeth and gums. He can do an x-ray to see if the bones are affected.


The first cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene which promotes the formation of dental plaque. Then come tobacco, alcohol, certain drugs or hormonal changes. A badly fitted denture can also be responsible for inflammation of the gums.


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. If the infection progresses, it can reach deeper tissues, bone and therefore develop into more serious diseases which can lead to tooth loss, for example. Poor dental hygiene also has negative effects on general health.

Associated disorders

Gingivitis can be associated with breathing problems. The bacteria in plaque can travel from the mouth to the lungs and cause infection or worsen an existing lung condition. There is also a link between gingivitis and diabetes. Diabetes may be more difficult to control because of an increased presence of bacteria transmitted through the blood, which increases blood sugar levels.

In pregnant women, gingivitis is associated with a higher risk of premature delivery and a low birth weight of the baby.

Periodontal disease includes gingivitis and periodontitis. The first corresponds to an infection of the gums, the second to an infection of the bone of the tooth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

What are the gingivitis symptoms?

  • Red, swollen gums;
  • Sensitive gums;
  • Pains;
  • Bleeding gums, when brushing or chewing on hard food;
  • Teeth that move;
  • Loosening of teeth;
  • Bad breath;
  • Abscess, pus.

People at risk

Gingivitis is a very common pathology. Age is an important parameter in the onset of the disease. The older we get, the more likely we are to suffer from this inflammation. In addition, men suffer more from periodontal disease than women.

Risk factors

The presence of dental plaque, and therefore poor oral hygiene, remains the first factor that promotes the appearance of gingivitis. Stress could also increase the risk of gingivitis, as could a hormonal change, especially during menopause and pregnancy, tobacco 1 , malnutrition, alcohol 2 and certain diseases such as diabetes or HIV.

Prevention and medical treatment

Why prevent?

It is the accumulation of tartar that is responsible for the appearance of gingivitis. However, it is possible to fight against tartar and therefore prevent this disease.

Can we prevent?

Good dental hygiene and a healthy diet are the main measures to prevent the build-up of dental plaque.

Measures to prevent the appearance of tartar

The simplest and most effective prevention to prevent the appearance of tartar is to brush your teeth regularly, at least twice a day, to remove dental plaque. For more effectiveness, dental floss and fluoride toothpaste can be used.

The dentist should be consulted regularly. He can perform a descaling, once or twice a year, if necessary.

A balanced diet, not too sweet, can help prevent the onset of certain dental diseases such as gingivitis

gingivitis treatment

To fight against gingivitis and thus prevent the progression of this disease, it is necessary to start by brushing your teeth properly and to have scaling done by a health professional if necessary. An antiseptic mouthwash may be prescribed by the dentist. Finally, some toothpastes are indicated for gingivitis.


  • Thyme, eucalyptus and menthol. Present in some mouthwashes, they could be effective in fighting against the formation of dental plaque and thus limit the risk of gingivitis. Thymol 3 is thought to be one of the main agents responsible for this effect.
  • Borage oil. One study 4 suggests that borage oil may reduce inflammation of the gums. This oil is a source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which belongs to the family of omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Honey. It could play a therapeutic role in the treatment of gingivitis, believe researchers in a study 5 published in 2007. Other studies have also suggested the effect of propolis 6 , 7 in this pathology.
  • Yogurt or yogurt. A study 8 suggests that regular consumption of yogurt may decrease the risk of developing gingivitis. It would be the probiotics present in yogurts that would have this effect on periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis.

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