What Causes Gingivitis?

Gingivitis (Gum Disease)

Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease (periodontal disease) that causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth.

The primary cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene that encourages plaque to form on teeth, causing inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. Here are some factors that contribute to the development of gingivitis:

  • Plaque buildup: Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. If it’s not removed by regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar (calculus), which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gingiva.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Inadequate or infrequent brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate on teeth, increasing the risk of gingivitis.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco: Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for the development of gingivitis and other gum diseases. It can also make it more challenging for gum tissue to heal.
  • Poor nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency: A diet lacking in essential nutrients can compromise the immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection, including gum infections.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, certain viral and fungal infections, and certain autoimmune diseases, can increase the risk of gingivitis.
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia): Saliva helps cleanse the mouth and neutralize acids produced by bacteria. A reduction in saliva production, which can occur due to various factors such as medications, can contribute to gingivitis.
  • Dental restorations that don’t fit properly: Crowns, bridges, or other dental appliances that don’t fit correctly may trap bacteria, contributing to gum irritation and gingivitis.
  • Conditions that decrease immunity: Conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer treatment, and certain medications can weaken the immune system, making the gums more susceptible to infections, including gingivitis.
  • Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or use of birth control pills: Hormonal changes can affect gum tissue, making them more susceptible to gingivitis.
  • Genetic factors: Some individuals may be more genetically predisposed to gum disease, including gingivitis.

Good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, along with routine dental check-ups and cleanings, are essential in preventing and managing gingivitis. If you notice signs of gingivitis, such as red or swollen gums, bleeding during brushing or flossing, or persistent bad breath, it’s important to seek professional dental care for appropriate treatment and guidance.

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