Health Guide


What is it?

Gingivitis (jin-jih-vi-tis) is swelling and redness of infected gums. It is an early sign of gum disease. Taking good care of your teeth may keep gingivitis from getting worse. You are at a higher risk for getting gingivitis if you have diabetes or are pregnant. Risk is also greater if you have an infection, a blood disorder, or leukemia.


Gingivitis is usually caused by a sticky film that forms on teeth, called plaque (plak). Plaque is caused by food, germs, and mucus that collects at the bottom of your teeth. Some medicines may cause gingivitis. Not eating a balanced diet or not getting enough vitamins can also lead to gingivitis.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have red and swollen gums. The swelling may come and go. Your gums may also pull away from your teeth. You may have bad breath. Your gums may look bumpy and bleed easily. The gums usually do not hurt.

Wellness Recommendations:

Good teeth brushing and flossing can decrease your gingivitis risk. Avoid snacking between meals. Do not smoke as it increases gingivitis risk.

Medical Care:

Untreated gingivitis may keep coming back. If it is not treated, it may cause serious gum disease or tooth loss. Daily brushing and flossing will help remove plaque before it builds up. Only your dentist can remove plaque that has hardened on the teeth. You should have your teeth checked and cleaned by a dentist every 6 months.

Dietary Measures:

  • Avoid eating high sugar foods as this may increase the risk of gingivitis.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat gingivitis.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • The bleeding in your gums gets worse.
      • Your gums become painful.
      • You have swelling in your face or neck.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You have trouble swallowing.
      • You have trouble breathing.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


      1. Pack ARC: Folate mouthwash: effects on established gingivitis in periodontal patients. J Clin Periodontol 1984; 11(9):619-628.

      2. Schlegel-Bregenzer B, Persson RE, Lukehart S et al: Clinical and microbiological findings in elderly subjects with gingivitis or periodontitis. J Clin Periodontol 1998; 25(11 pt 1):897-907.

      3. Sidi AD & Ashley FP: Influence of frequent sugar intakes on experimental gingivitis. J Periodontol 1984; 55(7):419-423.

      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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