The causes of Do you have swollen gums? Do they bleed when you brush your teeth or floss them?

You might be suffering from Gingivitis.

Gingivitis, a periodontal disease,  is inflammation caused in the gums due to plaque and bacteria.

Before moving to the causes and symptoms of gingivitis, let us understand what is plaque and bacteria and what causes them.


Naturally, bacteria are present in our Mouth. There are both good and bad bacteria.

When we eat starchy and sugary food and drinks, the bacteria in our Mouth converts it into acid. This acid then attacks the enamel of the tooth causing tooth decay.

Tooth decay, a periodontal disease, is first visible in white spots which turn into brown or darker color with time thus affecting the dentin and pulp.

This can cause inflammation, bleeding, and even tooth loss.


A sticky film coating formed on your teeth is known as plaque. It is a community of living microbes on our teeth that is surrounded by a polymer layer.

It is a sticky film or coating that coats our teeth when we wake up in the morning.

When we do not brush our teeth regularly, it can accumulate minerals from saliva and harden it off turning it into tartar. 

If tartar is building up in your teeth, you can see it on the front and back of the teeth.

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It forms on your gum line and if left untreated can progress to periodontitis.

Causes of Plaque

When we consume carbohydrates and sugary food, bacteria feed on sugar, thus producing acid in our mouths.

This acid attacks the enamel of the teeth causing periodontal diseases like cavities, gingivitis, and other forms of tooth decay and are usually present on your gum line.



Gingivitis, a form of gum disease, is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the gums.

If not treated timely, it can cause periodontitis. 

Gingivitis is caused when there is plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. As explained above, plaque is the sticky film coating on our teeth that contains microbes.

Plaque contains bacteria that irritate the gums and results in infection. If plaque is not treated in time it can lead to more serious problems like periodontitis therefore seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Gingivitis and periodontitis can be treated if you maintain good oral hygiene but can come back if you ignore dental hygiene.

Habits That Increase the Risk of Gingivitis

There are several habits that can lead to inflammation in gums i.e. Gingivitis. These habits are:

If we do not brush our teeth properly at least twice a day or floss them, plaque could accumulate in the teeth.

Regular appointments with the dentist are important as he or she is able to diagnose diseases we cannot at home.

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Often observed that smoking or chewing tobacco causes inflammation in the gums.

Certain medications like steroids, medications that treat signs of depression, and birth control pills can cause gingivitis.

Bridges or dentures that do not fit the gaps properly can cause dental problems.

Diseases that affect our immune system and help in fighting infections like HIV, diabetes, etc. can cause inflammation as our defense system weakens.



There are two types of Gingivitis.

  • Dental plaque-induced gingivitis

This cause of this type of gingivitis is plaque, medications, or malnutrition (food that does not contain full nutrients)

  • Non-plaque induced gingivitis

This type of gingivitis is due to a certain type of bacteria, virus, or fungus in the mouth. It may also be due to genetic factors, allergic reactions, wounds, or reactions to foreign bodies such as dentures.

Causes of Gingivitis

As we have mentioned above, the most common cause of gingivitis is plaque. This is caused due to the accumulation of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth.

It leads to the destruction of gum tissue and leads to further complications that include loss of teeth.

If tooth loss occurs, you may require dental implants or crowns to treat it.

Dental plaque might help the mouth from harmful micro-organisms but if not treated in time, it can cause tooth decay and periodontal problems.

In case, plaque is not treated in time, it can harden into tartar, which causes inflammation in and around the gums.

Other Causes

Some other changes in the body can cause gingivitis. These risk factors are as follows:

Hormones: The gingival may become sensitive, raising the risk of inflammation during puberty, menopause, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy.

Drugs: Some medications can cause changes in oral health like a reduced amount of saliva. These medications are anticonvulsant and anti-angina.

other causes

Smoking: Studies suggest that smoking can cause gingivitis in smokers.

Family History: If either or both of your parents of a person had gingivitis and periodontitis, then you may develop it too.

This is because of the type of bacteria we acquire during our early life.

Gingivitis Symptoms

Studies suggest that a mild case of Gingivitis shows no signs and symptoms.  But if aggravated it shows the following symptoms.

  1. bright red or puffy gums
  2. tender gums that may cause pain if touched
  3. bleeding while brushing or flossing
  4. bad breath
  5. inflammation of gums
  6. receding gums
  7. soft gums


Consult your doctor and seek medical advice before the disease aggravates. 

The diagnosis consists of:

Dental and Medical history: Your dentist will review your medical and dental history as well as the signs and symptoms of gingivitis.


Physical Examination: After taking the history, your dentist will take a physical examination of your teeth, gums mouth, and tongue.

Pocket Depth: A dental probe is inserted into the mouth to measure the pocket depth between your gums and teeth. The usual depth is 1 and 3 millimeters while if the depth is of 4millimeters, it indicates gum disease.

Dental X-rays: Your dentist will take an X-ray of your jaw that shows the teeth, gums, and jaw bone. If there is bone loss, it indicates that there is pocket depth.

Other Tests

As mentioned above, some diseases can cause inflammation in the gums.

If not clear, your dentist might recommend your medical evaluation by your physician to diagnose any underlining health conditions.


Gingivitis Treatment

To prevent the aggravation of inflammation to gum diseases and tooth loss, you need to act efficiently to reverse the symptoms of gingivitis.

Good oral care is the key to successful treatment.

You should prefer to get dental treatment for Gingivitis.

Your doctor will treat gingivitis using the following procedures:

Dental Cleaning

A dental cleaning includes removing traces of plaque, tartar, and bacterial products. This procedure is known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from the surface of the tooth and beneath your gums while root planing removes bacteria that cause inflammations thus smoothing root surfaces.

Your dentist will carry out this procedure with the help of laser, dental instruments, or ultrasonic devices.

Dental Restoration

As we have discussed above, if the bridges or dentures do not fit the gaps between the teeth properly, they can cause gingivitis.

This leads to irritation in the gums and makes it harder to remove plaque.

oral hygiene

Your dentist may recommend fixing these problems.

Oral Hygiene

Once your gingivitis is cleared by a dental procedure, you need to take good care of your oral hygiene.


In case your gums show extreme signs of inflammation, your dentist would recommend antibiotics to reduce the swelling.

These include metronidazole or amoxicillin.


Home Remedies

Some home remedies have proven to be effective in treating early symptoms and signs of gingivitis. You need to maintain good oral hygiene. If left untreated they can progress to periodontitis, according to American Dental.  These are:

Use of Saltwater

Studies show that salted water rinse can be helpful in healing inflammation in gums.

To use this remedy at home mix ½ to ¾ teaspoon of salt into lukewarm water and swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times for effective results.


Mouthwashes that contain cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), fluoride, etc can be used to ease inflammation in the gums.

Tea tree oil is known for its healing and anti-bacterial properties.YOu can use a mouth wash that contains this oil to treat gingivitis.

Clove Oil

Studies suggest that using clove oil also helps fight bacteria causing inflammation and plaque. Clove has antiviral and antibacterial properties that help to relieve pain.

To use clove oil, dab a cotton ball into clove oil and gently rub it on your gums and let it sit for a minute.

Recovery Time

If gingivitis is in the early stage, then you can take measures to prevent it at home.

As mentioned above, you can use either of the home remedies to reduce inflammation.

However, if the condition worsens and you have severe bleeding and inflammation, you need to consult your dentist immediately to prevent severe damage which can lead to periodontitis.

Prevention of Gum Diseases

Proper oral hygiene can help prevent gum diseases. This includes:

  • regular appointments with your dentist
  • using fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
  • flossing


The risk factors of developing this disease are it might lead to periodontitis which eventually leads to tooth loss.

Remember, eating a balanced and healthy diet also helps in maintaining good dental health.


Maintaining oral hygiene is as important as maintaining physical health. if we take care of oral hygiene it can help prevent many diseases. The cause of Oral diseases is sometimes due to underlining diseases like cancer, use of steroids, or stomach diseases. Regular checkups with your dentist are important as they can help you diagnose if you suffer from any oral health.

In case you experience mild swelling and bleeding from gums, you can treat them at home using home remedies or mouthwashes. An increase in inflammation and bleeding occurs, you should consult your dentist as soon as possible to prevent severe diseases like peritonitis. If in case, your dentist has not been able to identify any causes that are related to your oral inflammation, consult your physician or doctor immediately to diagnose any underlining medical condition like diabetes, stroke, or lung disease so that you can get treatment in time.

Dental plaque is caused every night and is made of bacteria. If we do not practice proper oral hygiene, this plaque converts into tartar causing gum diseases and tooth decay. Good news! Brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash can help you maintain oral hygiene.  Regular appointments with the doctor also help you maintain oral health and prevent gingivitis and other gum diseases.