Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums (gingiva) and it also the early stage of gum disease.  Most often it occurs because a film of bacteria, also known as plaque, has accumulated on the teeth.  This is called Dental Plaque-induced Gingival disease.

Plaque will build up around the teeth and cause the gums to swell.  If not treated, it will become the more severe form of periodontal disease, or periodontitis.  This usually consists of tooth loss in adults and can also open the door to other illnesses and diseases.

Another category that gingival disease falls into is Non-plaque Induced Gingival lesions.  This type is caused by a specific bacteria or virus, or may be due to genetics, wounds or reactions to foreign objects.

Some of these causes may include smoking or tobacco use, illnesses, hormonal changes, and bad or lack of dental care.

Signs & Symptoms of Gingivitis

The most common sign is red, swollen or bleeding gums.  Other signs include bad breath (Halitosis),  and receding or tender gums.

As gingivitis becomes periodontitis, the gums will start to pull away from the teeth and create small pockets.  Bacteria can then get trapped in these pockets and cause infection or weaken the bones supporting your teeth.

It is important that if you notice any of these signs that you contact a dentist immediately.

Possible Complications from Gingivitis

If left untreated, gum disease can spread and affect tissue, teeth and bones.  Patients may find that they have abscesses in the gums or even their jaw bones.  Further research has also shown that gum disease is linked to additional diseases such as heart disease or strokes.

Gingivitis, if treated properly, can be reversible.  It is important that you seek the proper dental care and develop a plan of action with your dentist.