The mildest form of periodontal disease, gingivitis causes irritation, redness and inflammation of your gums – specifically around the base of your teeth. Since gingivitis can lead to much more serious disease, including periodontitis and advanced periodontitis, it’s important to treat it promptly. If you notice signs of gingivitis, schedule an appointment with a doctor or periodontist at Rutgers Health University Dental Associates.

Causes of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is directly caused by plaque, a soft, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. When the bacteria is allowed to sit, it produces toxins than can irritate the gum tissue and cause gingivitis. Since gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, the damage can usually be reversed with a simple visit to your dentist or periodontist and proper at-home oral care. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis, a disease that can lead to tooth damage and bone loss.

Gingivitis Risk Factors

Gingivitis is a common early form of gum disease, and anyone can experience it. Factors that increase your risk for developing gingivitis include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Dry mouth
  • Conditions such as leukemia, HIV or cancer
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medications
  • Poor nutrition


Improving your oral hygiene practices goes a long way towards preventing gingivitis. Brush, floss and take antibacterial mouth rinses daily, and be sure to schedule biannual checkups with your dentist or a periodontist. There are also basic risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy food and stress, that can contribute to your dental health. Consider modifying or eliminating these habits to lower your risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Warning Signs

If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist:

  • Dark red gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing

Seeking care right away can help you reverse gingivitis damage and prevent the disease from progressing to periodontitis. Call the Newark or New Brunswick office of Rutgers Health University Dental Associates to schedule an appointment with an experienced dentist.