What causes gingivitis and how do dentists treat it?

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums and is the earliest stage of gum disease. The main cause of this pesky inflammation is plaque, which is a colourless film of bacteria that surrounds the teeth and gums. Because gingivitis doesn’t commonly cause pain, it can go unnoticed, however, if left untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis – a condition which causes tooth loss. So, to avoid losing any precious chompers we will look at what causes gingivitis and how to treat it.

What causes gingivitis?

The main causes of gingivitis are improper dental hygiene, organic changes in the mouth, medical conditions and poor habits.

Improper Dental Hygiene

Bacteria and plaque produce toxins which irritate gums, ultimately causing gingivitis. If you do not proper practice regular dental hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing you will be making it easy for the bacteria to run rampant in your mouth. Brushing will remove plaque, flossing will remove trapped food and a good gargle and rinse with mouthwash will flush away both the bacteria and plaque and leave your mouth fresh and clean. These simple steps will help reduce the likelihood of developing gingivitis.

Organic Changes in the Mouth

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, can render the gums more sensitive and vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation. The same thing can happen during menopause or puberty, so it’s important to be extra vigilant during those periods.

Medical Conditions

Certain health conditions and medications used to treat them (i.e. kidney disease, diabetes) can lead to the overgrowth of gums. This makes them more susceptible to bacteria and gum disease.

Poor Habits

Teeth grinding or clenching can damage the surrounding tissues around your gum. However, one of the biggest contributors is smoking. Smokers tend to have more dental plaque and gum disease progresses quicker than in non-smokers.

Gum Disease Treatments

At Adelaide Dental, we have a number of treatments available for gum disease sufferers, however, each one will depend on the severity of your symptoms.


To begin with, we want to hear about your symptoms and their frequency. Then, we will perform a dental exam where your gums will be checked with a small ruler. There’s no cause for alarm though, we’re simply checking for any inflammation!

Professional dental cleaning

As a second step, we will perform a professional cleaning, removing all traces of plaque, tartar and bacterial products — this procedure is called scaling or root planing. This will allow for proper healing and your chance to have a beautiful and pain-free smile once again.

Dental restoration

In the event of misaligned teeth or sloppy dental restorations, our team may suggest fixing these problems to deter bacteria from spreading. A small dosage of antibiotics may also be recommended to treat bacteria housed in the pocketed areas of the gum.

Ongoing care

You should see the return of pink and healthy gum tissue quite quickly after your professional clean, and consistency with your home oral hygiene will keep your gums healthy! Of course, at Adelaide Dental we will help you plan an effective at-home program, combined with regular checkups.