What is Gingivitis & How is It Treated?

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is when your gums are irritated, red, swollen and often bleed when you brush. This is caused by a lack of oral hygiene which causes plaque build-up. If ignored, the plaque turns to tartar and results in inflammation of the gums.

Plaque forms on your teeth daily from all the foods you consume. To get rid of plaque you will need to brush daily as it reoccurs quickly. If plaque isn’t removed it will turn in to tartar which is difficult to remove without a professional cleaning.

Here are some early stage signs that you may be on the path to gingivitis:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness of gums/pain to touch
  • Bleeding when brushing/Flossing
  • Receding gums

Other risk factors are:

  • Age
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Drug use
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Hormonal changes


If ignoring all of these signs, gingivitis can lead to more a more serious disease that result in loss of teeth, infection or serious damage to the bone this is called periodontitis. With continued neglect, the gum tissues and bone that forms around your tooth will begin to pull away from your tooth/teeth which allows the bacterial disease to build up faster, contributing to tooth loss. Gum recession occurs gradually and some patients don’t even realize they have it. Some signs will be tooth sensitivity or one day you may notice your teeth are looking longer than normal.

A common way to treat gingivitis is to get regular deep cleanings by your hygienists in order to remove the harmful bacteria. In more extreme cases, a more thorough cleaning called scaling and root planing is required, during which tartar and calculus buildup is removed from below the gum line.

In cases of advanced periodontal disease, many patients need to undergo osseous surgery, a procedure designed to smooth and reshape the bone to remove deep pockets and allow healthy gum tissue to re-attach. Fortunately, Monterey Peninsula Dental Group offers a laser alternative to osseous surgery called LANAP, or the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. LANAP is less painful and invasive than traditional periodontal surgery and comes with a reduced recovery time. Read more about LANAP here.

Gum Disease has been found to be linked to heart problems, stroke, stomach problems, and diabetes. If you ignore signs of gum disease, the bacteria in plaque that builds between your teeth can eventually enter your blood stream and cause problems in more places than just your smile.

Good news, gingivitis is reversible with regular visits to your dentist and cleanings with your hygienists. With regular brushing and flossing, electric toothbrush use, and even use of an antiseptic mouth wash or toothpaste, you can help prevent gingivitis and keep your clean healthy teeth.

In early stages gingivitis can be reversed in as little as a couple weeks with at home care. Luckily, our office provides comfortable cleanings to rid the bacteria of periodontal disease and also offer laser dentistry for certain stages of gum disease. Don’t wait to address symptoms of gingivitis, book your appointment with Monterey Peninsula Dental Group today!

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