What is Gingivitis?

The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, symptoms include swollen gums, bad breath and/or bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. Most adults will people experience gingivitis at least once in their lives.

Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a condition that affects the tissues supporting teeth and holding them in place; increasing the risk of teeth falling out or jaw bone complications.

Gum disease has also been linked to other health complications, such as strokes and heart disease.


Gingivitis may be caused by a several factors; however poor oral hygiene is the most common. Not brushing teeth properly or often enough allows the build-up of plaque. Plaque is the sticky off-white substance that forms when saliva combines with bacteria that naturally exists in the mouth. Whilst bacteria help break down foods they also produce acid which adheres to the surfaces of the teeth causing tooth decay and irritating the gums.

Who is at risk?

A number of things can increase your risk of gingivitis:

  • Having poor oral hygiene is the main risk factor; brushing teeth for less than 2 minutes or not brushing before bed will increase the risk greatly.
  • Smoking
  • Age; gingivitis becomes more common with older age.
  • Family history of gum disease
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Malnutrition
  • Stress

Treatment and Prevention

The best way to treat and prevent Gingivitis is to maintain a good standard of oral hygiene. This involves:

  • Brushing your teeth for around two minutes last thing at night before bed, and on one other occasion every day.  Electric or manual toothbrushes are effective as long as all the surfaces of the tooth are cleaned
  • Using toothpaste containing the right amount of fluoride:
    [Adults should use toothpaste that contains at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) fluoride, whilst children below 6 years who don’t have tooth decay can use a lower-strength that contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride (children under the age of 3 need only a smear on their toothbrush)]
  • Not rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash after brushing, as this washes away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste
    [Choose a different time to use mouthwash, such as after lunch]
  • Flossing  regularly, before brushing your teeth
  • Not smoking
  • Regularly visiting the dentist; at least once every few years, or more often if required