What Causes Gingivitis?

Considered a mild form of gum disease, gingivitis is an inflammation of the gingiva. If left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, or gum disease, which is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Learn what causes gingivitis, what factors put certain individuals at a greater risk of developing it and how to prevent gum disease.

What Causes Gingivitis?

Every moment of every day, there’s a thin film of bacteria, known as plaque, forming on the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. When you brush your teeth, you help remove this soft, sticky and often colorless film. However, when plaque is allowed to build up, the minerals in your saliva can cause the film to harden and turn into tartar. While you can remove plaque with at-home dental care, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional.

When plaque, tartar or food gets trapped in the gingival sulcus – the space between the tooth and the gum tissue that surrounds it – gingivitis can occur. If left untreated, gingivitis can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums, resulting in gingival hyperplasia, or the overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth, increasing your risk for gum disease. Additionally, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, causing your teeth to separate from the gums. This advanced stage of gum disease can damage the bones and soft tissues that support the teeth and may eventually result in tooth loss.

What Are the Risk Factors for Gingivitis?

Certain factors may put you at a higher risk of developing this mild form of gum disease. Here are some of the top risk factors for gingivitis:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain medications, such as oral contraceptives, steroids and chemotherapy
  • Broken fillings
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Poorly fitted dental restorations
  • Crooked teeth
  • Leukemia

How Do I Prevent Gingivitis?

First and foremost, preventing gingivitis starts at home with good oral hygiene habits. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. In addition, you should attend regular checkups with your dentist to remove any and all plaque buildup. Other ways to prevent gingivitis include eating a well-balanced diet, avoiding cigarettes and chewing tobacco and managing conditions that can lead to gum disease.

If you’re concerned about gingivitis, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Benjamin Klayman and his team at Red Bank Smiles. Call us at 732-741-1052 to book your checkup.