Gingivitis is a common condition in which the gum margins become inflamed and appear red and swollen. The inflamed gums may bleed easily, especially during and immediately after toothbrushing or flossing. Healthy gums are pale pink and not swollen, forming a knife-edge appearance where they meet the tooth.
Gingivitis is caused by the build-up of dental plaque. Dental plaque is a biofilm of bacteria that causes the body to react by defending itself against the bacteria and their harmful byproducts. If dental plaque is not frequently and completely removed, it becomes harmful and the gums react to it through the process of inflammation.
If the dental plaque is removed by using correctly designed cleaning aids and a technique recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist, the gingivitis will subside and the gums return to their normal healthy state.
Gingivitis is reversible for most people. However, for some individuals, the build-up of dental plaque may lead to a much more serious condition known as periodontitis.
Thorough and regular removal of dental plaque is the best way to prevent it.
Figure: Healthy gums are pale pink and form a knife-edge at the gum margin where they give way to the crown of the tooth.
Figure: In early stage gingivitis, the gum margin begins to change from pink to red, especially between the teeth.
Figure: In moderate stage gingivitis, the gums become redder over a larger area, and look swollen and puffy.
Figure: In advanced stage gingivitis, the gums are very red, puffy, and swollen, and bleed very easily. There will generally be obvious deposits of plaque and calculus.