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Gingivitis (Gum Disease): Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & FAQ

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Gingivitis Guide - Header Image

Gingivitis is a disease that affects the gums, causing inflammation and bleeding.

It can be prevented, yet statistics show that 20% of the Canadian population have active disease and 7 in 10 will develop gum disease at some point in their lives.

Thankfully if caught and dealt with early enough, the condition can be treated and reversed. Sadly, if gingivitis is not treated early enough, it can progress to periodontal disease.

This article is a guide to gum disease and all you need to know about the condition, from the causes, through to the treatments.


If you want the quick facts of the article without the explanation, the following bullet points are for you.

  • Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria.
  • If treated early enough it is a fully treatable and reversible condition.
  • Everyone is at risk of gingivitis, but some are at a higher risk.
  • Symptoms include red, swollen and bleeding gums.
  • Treatment is usually professional cleaning, followed by a good oral hygiene routine.
  • The cost of treatment is low in comparison to most other dental conditions.
  • Best investment you can make is in yourself by perfecting your brushing techniques.
  • If left untreated it can develop into periodontitis which can cause irreversible damaging including tooth loss.

If you can spare a few minutes though, it is well worth reading the entire article to get a full understanding of gingivitis.

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What is gingivitis (gum disease)?

The American Academy of Periodontology (per·i·o·don·tol·o·gy) writes ‘Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily.”

Periodontal disease is the medically correct terminology for what most know or refer to as gum disease.

Gum disease essentially has 3 key stages, each of which relates to the severity of the disease.

To give the stages their more technical names:

  • Stage 1 – Gingivitis
  • Stage 2 – Periodontitis
  • Stage 3 – Chronic Periodontitis
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At each stage, the condition worsens.  The pain and discomfort increases and the consequences are more severe.  As the disease progresses, the bone the holds the teeth in place is destroyed.  If left untreated, by the time chronic periodontitis is established, tooth loss is a very probable outcome.

Gingivitis is the most common stage and is reversible with no lasting damage to the teeth and gums.

General dentists are trained in the treatment and diagnosis of periodontal disease.  A ‘periodontist’ is a dentist training and qualification. A periodontist has specialised in the prevention and treatment of diseases of the tooth-supporting structures.

In cases where the gum disease is advanced, or not responding to normal treatment, a general dentist may refer you to a periodontist, so that you get the best treatment.

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What causes gum disease?

How is a tooth held in place?

To understand gum disease, you first need to know that teeth are held in place by bone and ligaments.

The “gum” is the soft pink covering (mucosa) that covers the top layer of this bone.

In healthy gums, there is a small space between the bone and gum, and the tooth. This space is called the gingival sulcus.

In health, the gingival sulcus is 1-3mm deep. Below this point, the bone is joined to the tooth by the periodontal ligament.

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So what causes gum disease?

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The cause of gum disease is bacteria.

We have over 600 types of bacteria in our mouths.  This is completely natural and normal.

You have probably heard of plaque, it is the reason we clean our teeth. Cleaning our teeth properly removes plaque.

Plaque is formed by bacteria. Over the course of a day, the bacteria and their waste products (not only acid, but also food debris) it develops into a thick, sticky colorless film on our teeth, called plaque.

If you run your fingernail over your teeth, you may feel this stuff sticking to it.

Plaque even forms in the tightest of spaces within the mouth.  This includes the gingival sulcus.

When we brush, the bristles of the brush head reach under the gumline (when done correctly) and clean out this sulcus, reducing the amount of plaque present.

The plaque is always developing, so failing to clean the teeth at all, or properly, allows the plaque to increase.

As the plaque builds, it actually offers a better surface for food debris to stick to and encourages more bacteria to develop.  The bacteria in plaque are protected from things which may remove them if the bacteria were not stuck together, for example gentle movement from your tongue.

The bacteria that forms the plaque produces toxic by-products. These by-products irritate the gums.  Ultimately this leads to the inflammation and redness associated with this condition.

Think of it similar to a cut on your arm. You will always have bacteria on your arm. But if you clean them away regularly, they will not cause a problem. If you do not clean and the bacteria are left on the cut, they will cause irritation to the cut skin, causing the skin to become red, swollen, and bleed if you touch it.

Long term, if the plaque is not removed from the gum line, and the bacteria are left to produce by-products that irritates the gums, the gums become swollen.

The gum will swell so much that the normal height between the top of the bone and the top of the gum is increased -from 1-3mm to 3mm or more. The gum is swollen above the normal level, but there has been no damage to the bone underneath. These are known as false pockets.

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These pockets actually allow more plaque to accumulate and cleaning becomes even more difficult.

By this stage, the condition is known as chronic gingivitis. The condition is still fully reversible, but will require some intervention by dental professionals to achieve this.

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Tartar and calculus

Longer term plaque hardens into something called tartar or calculus.

The visible calculus above the gumline is known more technically as ‘supragingival calculus’ whilst that below the gum is known as ‘subgingival calculus’.  Calculus can pick up stains from tea and coffee.

Once calculus has formed it is a difficult (but not impossible) to remove with normal brushing.

The rough calculus irritates the gum further and is a breeding ground for yet more bacteria.

What is gingivitis?

Advanced gum disease (periodontitis)

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The early stage of gum disease is gingivitis. As described above, this is caused by bacteria and is completely reversible.

However, if gingivitis is left untreated, the bacteria continue to cause damage. The bacteria now has a deeper pocket where they cannot be cleaned away so easily.

When the bacteria are left in the false pockets, the toxic by-products they produce are also left in the pocket, next to the gum. Eventually these by-products damage the bone that holds the tooth in place.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontal disease. In periodontal disease the bone that holds the tooth in place is lost, and eventually the tooth will become loose, and fall out.

Gum disease symptoms

Symptoms of gingivitis

The symptoms people show can differ from one person to another.

However, there are a number of common signs that you may have the early stages of gum disease, they are:

  • Red gums, rather than a softer pink color.
  • Shiny appearance to the gums.
  • Swollen gums.
  • Bleeding of the gums, particularly when brushing, flossing or eating.
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Additional symptoms do exist. These are more commonly associated with a more severe or chronic gingivitis: 

  • Purple-red patches at the gum line.
  • A bad taste in the mouth.
  • Regular periods of bad breath.
  • Increased sensitivity in the teeth to hot and cold food and drink.

Smokers are at a heightened risk and do not show quite the same symptoms.  The nicotine constricts the blood vessels in the gums and causes less bleeding.  With bleeding being a common sign for such a condition, smoking masks the disease, which can become more severe before other symptoms develop.

Unlike the discomfort suffered with third molars, decay or cracked teeth, gingivitis for the most part is relatively pain free.  Most pain, if any is felt when you brush or floss the teeth.

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Whilst all gum disease is treatable, it is only this earlier stages of gum disease, gingivitis, where the damage can be completely reversed.

Symptoms of periodontal disease

Left untreated, the symptoms of gum disease, become even more noticeable. Advanced gum disease, periodontitis, has bone loss around the tooth and is a deeper bacterial infection.

Symptoms here include:

  • Loose teeth.
  • Movement in the teeth, particularly when biting.
  • Pus coming from the gaps between teeth.
  • Bright red gums
  • Grey or yellow sores inside the cheeks or on the gums.

At this stage, the gum disease has actually advanced into periodontitis disease. Irreversible damage will have been done to the gums.

What gum disease looks like

Throughout this article we show a few images of what gum disease can look like, but here are a few  gingivitis images for you to take a detailed look at.

Gingivitis (Gum Disease): Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & FAQ 1
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Some are more at risk than others

Let’s be clear, anyone with their natural teeth is susceptible to gum disease. Even if you have implants, you can still get gum disease.

However, there are certain medical, natural and lifestyle factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering with the condition. Some of these factors potentially make the experience worse and more difficult to treat.

Those more at risk are smokers and diabetics, but others risk factors are included below.

  • Smokers
    • Nicotine restricts blood vessels in the gums and masks an obvious symptom so the disease is missed in the early reversible stages.
    • Smoking decreases the success of treatment.
    • Smoking increases the chance of the disease occurring again after treatment.
    • Smoking 1-4 cigarettes a day increases the risk of periodontitis by 50%.
    • Studies have shown that smokers are 3 times more likely to have gum disease and it has been shown that 42% of all the periodontitis cases in the USA were attributable to the act of smoking.
  • Diabetes
    • Generally, diabetes have reduced wound healing which affects the response to treatment.
    • Poorly controlled diabetes has a greater effect.
    • Undiagnosed diabetes may cause large abscess along the gum.
  • Hormonal changes – e.g. puberty, pregnancy and menopause
    • Hormonal changes and imbalances can increase the sensitivity and susceptibility of the gums.
  • Aids/Leukemia/Blood disorders
    • Where disease limits the resistance to infection, immunity is compromised.
  • Epilepsy medications
    • Phenytoin (Epanutin) can cause swelling in the gums, even if the cleaning is very good.
  • Vitamin C deficiency
    • A lack of vitamin c can cause connective tissues and capillaries to weaken and studies have shown links between a deficiency and periodontal disease.
  • Unbalanced stress when chewing
    • Where teeth are misaligned or missing and cause for extra stress to be placed on certain teeth or parts of the mouth.

Plaque retention factors

Plaque will develop for everyone at different rates after tooth brushing.

There are a number of factors that can exacerbate how much plaque exists.  Whilst these do not directly cause gingivitis and periodontitis, they affect how well you are able to remove the bacteria.

  • Poor oral hygiene
    • A lack of attention to detail means that tooth surfaces are not properly brushed and interdental spaces flossed clean.
  • Poorly aligned teeth
    • The increase in possible stagnation areas for plaque to accumulate.
  • Poor dentistry
    • Poorly fitted or finished restorations such as fillings, bridges and crowns offer areas for the plaque to develop, often out of reach of usual cleaning tools.
  • Small mouth opening
    • Restricted jaw movement or access to the teeth makes effective tooth brushing more difficult to achieve.
  • Incompetent lip seal
    • A break in the seal of the lips allows for soft tissues to dry out and not benefit from the self-cleansing that saliva would normally offer.

What to do if you have painful or bleeding gums

The best thing you can do is get a checkup booked with your dentist. Don’t forget, bleeding gums is not normal, and it is not healthy.

Getting a professional to look at your teeth and gums and make diagnosis puts you in the best position to resolve the problem.

As part of the appointment, if you make them aware of your concerns, they will use special tools to check the gums health and also look for other signs that there may be gum disease present.

It might well be there there is little wrong with your gums.  If the dentist gives you the all clear, then great, at least you can rest easy knowing that.

However, there may well be the early stages of gum disease and it may well be necessary for x-rays to be taken to assess just how far the infection has progressed. These x-rays will show if there has been any bone loss, i.e. if there is periodontitis (and not just early stage gingivitis).

Brushing too hard can occasionally cause the gums to bleed, but regular bleeding is not a good sign.  Couple this with any other symptoms you may have, then it is simply not worth leaving it, in the hope it will go away or get better on its own.

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Seeing a dentist

Ideally, you should get regular dental checkups with a dental professional, every 6-12 months.

It might seem like an inconvenience, particularly if you are not a fan of the dentist, but developing gum disease can be more of inconvenience!

If you are investing in your oral health, you will likely get a clean bill of health and walk out within a matter of minutes.

Even where improvement is needed, at least this can be picked up and dealt with before you have to endure greater pain, possible complications and cost.

Yes, believe it or not prevention is generally cheaper than the cure when it comes to dental health.

For any concerns you may have, you should first go to your general dentist.

Even if you are pretty sure you have gum disease, it is probably not worth booking in to see a periodontist straight away.

Of course you can, but the cause might be something else and you may well incur cost and time seeing the wrong person.  Periodontist are specialists and will likely charge more for their time than a regular dentist.

The general dentist can diagnose most issues and often provide initial effective treatment.  Only in some cases will it be necessary for you to see a specialist. If this is the case, your dentist will refer you.

The following video from the European Federation of Periodontology is 10 minutes long but shares the stories of real patients who have experienced gum disease.  There are many relatable points made and thought provoking comments you might take value from.

'The Sound of Periodontitis' with subtitles in English


Having booked yourself in for assessment by a dentist, it then focus shifts to the dental professional to actually diagnose what is wrong.

To get to that diagnosis, there will be a number of steps that the dentist will need to take.

Before the beginning any assessment be that through conversation with yourself or an actual physical examination of the mouth, you should make them aware of the symptoms and concerns you have, this will then be considered as an assessment is made.

The key steps the dentist will run through are:

  • Your medical history.
  • The appearance and any recession of your gums.
  • The depth of your gingival pockets.
  • The amount of bone loss (if any).
  • Tooth mobility.
  • The distribution of plaque.
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Whether you are a new or existing patient of that dentist, they will ask questions about your medical history.

If they have some information from your past records then great, but as this is potentially an ever changing situation, they need to be made aware of any recent changes that might have played a part in the symptoms you now show.

As has been explained, certain people are more at risk and less likely to respond to certain treatments, so an understanding of your general health is essential.

The dentist will be interested in any past or present illness, any drugs you might be prescribed, any key hormonal changes and whether you smoke or not.

With this covered the dentist will move onto the physical examination of the mouth.

A trained professional is looking for many clinical signs as part of their examination to determine if periodontal disease is present, whilst ruling out any other possible conditions that could show similar symptoms.

They will be looking to see whether the gums bleed on gentle probing, whether they look red and swollen, if there is visible signs of plaque at the edges of the teeth and along the gumline as well as halitosis (bad breath).

At this point the dentist will have confirmed whether you have gingivitis or not, but will then be looking at the extent and considering the treatment options that exist.

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Where the periodontitis is well established and considered clinically to be in a chronic state, the depth of the gum pocket will measure more than 3mm.  There will be the presence of calculus above and below the gum line. A small amount of pus may be extracted from the gingival crevice, some teeth may wobble too.

An x-ray will give further details on how much damage has been done to the alveolar bone (the bone that holds our teeth in place).

Once complete the dentist will confirm the diagnosis and state the severity.

This will be then followed with useful information on what can be done to stop further progression, repair and potentially reverse the disease.

Periodontal Screening

How to treat gingivitis

With the diagnosis confirming gingivitis, the good news is that it is reversible.

Treatment for gingivitis is focussed on education – that is, teaching you to remove all the plaque effectively at home.  Based on a dentists assessment, personalised recommendations will be made, pay attention to these.

For most patients it ultimately requires care and attention on your part.  This means more time spent brushing and flossing, something that perhaps lacked beforehand.

A professional clean may also be recommended. Your dentist may do this themselves, or refer you to a dental hygienist.

This cleaning process will likely involve something called scaling, which is a process that removes plaque and tartar from the teeth, including that hidden below the gumline.

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Such professional cleaning essentially gives a clean slate, from which you can then take control of maintaining your oral health and managing the condition.

In addition to the brushing and interdental cleaning advice you are given, there are specialized mouthwashes that can aid with the treatment and recovery.  Your dentist may advise using such, for a short period of time.

Expect a few tips to be given by the dental team to help you clean your teeth better at home.

It will for the most part be up to you now to keep the gingivitis under control through good brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups.

Periodontitis also focuses on improving cleaning at home. As well as the basic steps described above, a deeper clean may also be necessary. However, this deeper clean will only be successful if you can remove the plaque well enough at home, and you will need to demonstrate this before further treatment can be started.

Gingivitis when pregnant

The hormonal changes that women experience during pregnancy can make the gums more susceptible to plaque.

If you are pregnant and experiencing more swollen, inflamed or bleeding gums, there is little need to be overly concerned.  It is quite common during pregnancy to suffer with gingivitis even if a good oral hygiene routine is maintained.

Normally referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ it starts from around about 2 months and can last the full term of the pregnancy.

Having given birth, the body slowly changes the hormone balance and the susceptibility decreases.

Keep up regular twice daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental checkups.  If you have concerns that the condition is getting worse, then seek the opinion of a professional.

Is gum disease contagious?

Yes and no.

It is a bone of contention amongst professionals because many of the factors that cause or lead to gum disease are personal, such as poor dental hygiene.

But, because bacteria that encourages plaque formation can be passed from one person to another, it is theoretically possible that kissing or the sharing of certain products like cups and utensils can transfer the condition.

The reality is, that most with gum disease generally have an underlying condition that makes them more susceptible or they are making lifestyle choices that encourages such.

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How to prevent periodontal disease

It is perfectly possible to help prevent yourself from getting gum disease.

In fact, the Canadian Dental Association states ‘Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease’.

Gingivitis (the early stages of gum disease) needs to be prevented so that periodontitis does not develop.

Taking preventative measures will certainly decrease the risk and likelihood, but this does not mean you have a complete guarantee that you will never get gum disease.

This might sound incredibly simple, but the best prevention method is a good oral hygiene routine.

What does a good oral hygiene routine look like?

  • Brushing twice a day.
    • For 2 minutes each time.
    • Always last thing at night and at another time during the day.
    • Using an electric toothbrush will remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
    • Pay attention to the gum line on all sides of your teeth.
  • Interdental cleaning once a day.
    • Make use of interdental brushes – these remove more bacteria than floss alone.
    • Floss is also fine for tighter gaps.
  • Use a fluoride based toothpaste.
  • Replacing your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3 months.
  • Professional cleaning.
    • Get a thorough clean from a dental hygienist every 6 months.
  • Regular dental checkups.
    • A checkup every 6-12 months with your dentists.
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This all looks and sounds simple enough to most, but there is more technique to a good regime than you might think.

Many people actually brush their teeth incorrectly or use the wrong tool for the job.  Read the next section of this article ‘tools to help prevent and manage gingivitis’ to learn more.

In addition to the oral hygiene routine, it is worth considering whether anything else can be done to help control or limit the possible risk factors that make some more more susceptible to this disease.

It might be a hard one to kick, but stopping smoking can present obvious benefits for a variety of health reasons, notably reducing the chance of gum disease. It is one of the biggest risk factors for periodontitis.

Whilst some medical conditions are out of the hands of the patient and the dental team, some conditions such as uneven stresses when chewing, poorly aligned teeth and poor dental restorations, can be treated.

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Tools to help prevent and manage gingivitis

As you may well have discovered, there is no 1 tool that will cure gingivitis, but a good oral hygiene routine will go a long way in managing and preventing the condition.

Allow us to shine a little more light and insight into some investments you can make to better help yourself manage gum disease.

The best tool you can invest in is free.  That tool is you.

If you take the time to learn how to brush the teeth, how to use interdental brushes and floss correctly, you will deliver better improvements than any individual toothbrush, toothpaste or physical product can.

woman brushing teeth

Many of us use the wrong technique when brushing.  This is because we were taught incorrectly, or have never been shown.

A study in Sweden found that 1 in 10 people had the wrong technique.  Just 10% know how to brush correctly, meaning the risk of gum disease and decay is severely increased.

The technique for using a manual toothbrush is different to an electric toothbrush as well.

Did you know that you should hold the brush head at a 45 degree angle to your teeth and gums?

A manual toothbrush is perfectly fine to use. The Curaprox CS 5460 Ultra Soft Toothbrush is one of my favourites. We cover a variety of options in our best manual toothbrush post.

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Whilst using a manual toothbrush is fine, an electric toothbrush can help to improve your brushing technique and help to prevent gum disease, or reverse gingivitis.

Here at Electric Teeth we have tested many different brushes and each month update the best electric toothbrushes, available to help you decide on the right one for you.  The good news is that you need not spend all that much to enjoy the benefits they bring.

Brushing the teeth alone leaves up to 40% of the tooth surface untouched, this is where interdental brushes and dental floss come in.

Each work best for different people and different scenarios, but interdental brushes are now the gold standard.

They are more expensive, but most people find them considerably more convenient and easier to use than dental floss.

If you are not familiar with interdental brushes, our guide on the best interdental brushes will tell you all you need to know.

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Having learnt the right technique, got yourself a toothbrush, interdental brushes, floss and fluoride toothpaste you are on the road to success, or are you?

There are only a couple of ways you can really tell that all time and effort is paying off.

If you have gingivitis, hopefully you will see the bleeding reduce or stop and the gums become a more healthy pink, rather than red colour .  This can happen in as little time as one week!

If you go for a dental checkup, your dentist will let you know if there is an improvement.

But, there is another really effective way to check you are cleaning your teeth properly.  This works whether you have gum disease or not and does not require a visit to the dentist.  You can do it at home.

This test is called plaque disclosing.

It comes in the form of a small tablet you chew or a liquid you drop into the mouth.

When it comes into contact with plaque it dyes it a certain color.

You then brush as you would normally and you can then see how much of the disclosing agent is left behind.

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If there is some left, take note of where you are perhaps not cleaning properly and adjust your techniques.

Cost of treating gingivitis

Given what costs can be charged for some dental services, the cost for treating gingivitis is really quite low.

Gingivitis only requires prevention advice and possibly a quick clean.

The first thing you will need to pay for is the cost of a routine dental checkup which will costs on average $50-100.

If you need the teeth to be professionally cleaned you can be looking at $75-200 depending on how deep a clean is required.

Adding to the cost may be an x-ray to check how far any gum disease has progressed.

By no means a 100% accurate figure as rates vary, but even for a more severe case of gingivitis the treatment cost will be around $300 to get the condition treated.

In addition to this, to help take care of the teeth you have the cost of a toothbrush, toothpaste and interdental cleaning tools.  You should already own these or would buy as a matter of course anyhow.

If you have dental insurance you will likely find the checkup and cleaning will be covered by your insurance plan.

However, every plan and what is covered is different, so you will need to check your individual policy and consider whether it is worth making a claim.

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Source: Flickr

If the periodontal disease is more severe and requires additional treatments, these will incur more cost and are less likely to be included in any insurance plans.

It is not uncommon though for a good dental insurance policy to make a percentage (%) of value ($) contribution towards such treatment.  For example, they may contribute up to 80% of the cost, leaving you responsible for the further 20%. This does depend on your dental healthcare needs and what is covered in your plan.

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

During this article we have discussed both gingivitis and periodontitis. We have focussed on the most common types of these diseases, that is gingivitis and periodontitis that is caused by bacteria in the mouth.

Gingivitis is reversible, and will not always develop into periodontitis. However approximately 30% of people with untreated gingivitis will progress to periodontitis.

Only a small number of cases are caused purely by medication or an underlying condition, despite excellent oral hygiene.

The following table gives a brief overview of the differences and what you can expect with each stage of the disease.

GingivitisPeriodontitisAdvanced Periodontitis
SymptomsRead and wollen gums that bleed. Bad breath. Calculus build up. Receding gums. Loose teeth.Loose teeth. Pain while eating.
Effects on dental healthNo long term effects if treated early.Damage to bone and gum tissuePossible tooth loss and misalignment. Damage to bone and gum tissue. Tooth loss.
TreatmentScale and polish followed by a good oral hygiene routine. Deep scaling and polish. Root planing. Good oral hygiene routine once treated.Periodontal surgery. Possible bone grafts and tooth removal. Good oral hygiene routine once treated.

The following video is an excellent watch and summaries all that has been covered in this article.

Gingivitis and periodontitis - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Other periodontal conditions

As mentioned before, we have focused on gingivitis and periodontitis caused by bacteria and poor oral hygiene. These are called “plaque-induced” gingivitis and periodontitis.

There are a number of other conditions that can affect the tooth-supporting structures. These are also infections caused by bacteria or viruses, and may even show similar symptoms to the plaque-induced diseases.

These disease are treated differently to the gingivitis and periodontitis we have discussed in the article above:

  • Subacute pericoronitis
    • An infection of the gingival flap that lies over a partially erupted tooth.  Most commonly associated with wisdom teeth.
    • Normally cause by food getting trapped underneath the flap of gum.
  • Acute herpetic gingivitis
    • Caused by the herpes simplex virus.
    • Causes lots of ulcers over all the gums and cheeks in the mouth.
    • Most commonly affects infants.
    • Inflammation will likely exist along with blisters.
  • Acute (necrotising) ulcerative gingivitis
    • Shortened to ANUG or AUG, this is a form of gingivitis associated with severe pain and bad breath.
    • The gums turn a bright red, with a yellow/grey coating.
    • The triangle of gum between the teeth forms and ulcer and bleeds.
    • Traditionally called “trench mouth” this is associated with a poor diet and smokers.
  • Acute lateral periodontal abscess
    • An occasional complication of chronic periodontitis.
    • Pus forms in the periodontal ligament but is unable to drain through the gingival sulcus so instead forms an abscess at the base of the pocket.

For diagnosis and further information, speak to your dentist.


Plaque induced gingivitis is affecting 20% of the Canadian population, which is somewhat alarming as the condition is for the most part entirely preventable.

The symptoms are often very clear red, swollen, bleeding gums that can be sensitive.

A relatively easy problem to fix, aside from the need potentially for a professional clean of the teeth, a good oral hygiene routine is generally the answer.

Invest in yourself.

Learn how to clean your teeth properly, get the right tools and you can very easily reverse the condition or preferably prevent it occurring at all.

Failure to reverse gingivitis can lead to the development of periodontitis, the loss of bone holding the teeth in place. Ultimately you can lose teeth at an earlier age than otherwise expected.


What are gingivitis symptoms?

The main symptoms of gingivitis are:

  • Red colored gums, with a shiny look the them, rather than a softer pink color.
  • Swollen gums.
  • Bleeding of the gums, particularly when brushing, flossing or eating.

For more information read the section of this article called ‘Gingivitis Symptoms‘.

Can gingivitis be cured/is it reversible?


Gingivitis can be cured in most cases with nothing more than a professional tooth cleaning and then a good at home oral hygiene routine.

Will gingivitis go away?

Gingivitis will go away if you brush and floss the teeth properly, getting rid of all the plaque that causes the condition.

Can gingivitis cause headaches?

Gum disease is not normally linked with headaches.  However other dental issues can be associated with headaches.

An incorrect or uneven bite can put pressure on muscles and nerves that trigger headaches.  If you think you are getting headaches as a result of a dental issue, it is best to see a dentist for a professional opinion.

Can gingivitis kill you?

Gingivitis on its own is not going to kill you, but it is a condition that you need to treat.  Left untreated it develops into more serious periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology say ‘Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with several other diseases. For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other disease in the body; however, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may be responsible for the association. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.’

Can gingivitis make you sick?

Gum disease will leave you with red, sore, swollen and bleeding gums, which left untreated can get worse and lead to tooth loss.  Gingivitis and more severe gum disease can put you at more risk of becoming ill with conditions such as heart disease.   Gingivitis will not typically make you sick like a stomach bug or flu might.

What cures gingivitis?

The cure for gingivitis is removing the bacteria thorough a good brushing and flossing routine.  A professional clean of the teeth can help. Learn more here.

Can babies, toddlers and children get gingivitis?

Yes.  Just like adults, the plaque forms, builds up and can irritate the gums is not removed with tooth-brushing.

Babies with no teeth will not be susceptible but as soon as the first teeth come through the battle to clean away the plaque is on.

How to cure gum disease naturally

Plaque removal is the key to treating gum disease, so you can do that with an all natural toothbrush if you wish.  DIY toothpastes are an option, but there are too some manufactured pastes such as Earthpaste (view on Amazon) that are made from just 7 natural ingredients.

Gingivitis with braces

Braces in their own right do not cause gingivitis, but do provide more surface area for bacteria to stick to and plaque to form.  Gingivitis is centred around plaque along the gumline and few braces make contact with or are position close to the gum tissue.  Nonetheless, it is important to brush the teeth and all the gaps of the brace thoroughly to remove the buildup that may exist and help reduce the chances of contributing to plaque buildup and potential dental issues.

Gum disease dentist near me?

For the early stages of gum disease, you do not necessarily need to see a specialist dentist to help treat the issue.  Typically you can solve the problem at home or with the assistance of your regular dentist and/or dental hygienist.  Periodontists are the professionals that deal with the advanced stages of gum disease.  To find one near to you, then you can use the Canadian Academy of Periodontology’s find a dentist tool or do a web search for ‘Periodontotist xxxx’ (replacing xxxx with your location).

You general dentist can usually refer you to a specialist, if required.



About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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