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A condition of the gums characterized by inflammation and bleeding.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Gingivitis

Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless "plaque" on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form "tartar" that brushing doesn't clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.

The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called "gingivitis." In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place. NIH - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Clinical applicability of natural product(s)-containing mouthwashes as adjunctive treatment of biofilm-induced gingivitis: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Freires IA, Silva IC, Alves LA, Bezerra LM, Castro RD.  Clinical applicability of natural product(s)-containing mouthwashes as adjunctive treatment of biofilm-induced gingivitis: a systematic review. Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais 2012; 14(4): 700-711

The long-term effect of a mouthrinse containing essential oils on dental plaque and gingivitis: a systematic review

This review assessed the effects of mouthrinse containing essential oils on gingivitis and plaque. The authors concluded that mouthrinse containing essential oils used as an adjunct to unsupervised dental hygiene provided an additional benefit on both outcomes compared with a placebo or control. This conclusion reflects the evidence of the review and appears likely to be reliable.

A review of the effects of stannous fluoride on gingivitis

This review concluded that stannous fluoride dentifrices reduce gingivitis and plaque formation in comparison with conventional dentifrices, but that differences in outcome measures make it difficult to assess the magnitude of the effect. However, given the variability of the studies and limitations in the review methods, the reviewers' conclusions may not be reliable.

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Summaries for consumers

Gingivitis and periodontitis: Overview

Gingivitis (inflamed gums) is usually harmless and goes away quickly. But sometimes gingivitis can spread to the tissues that support our teeth and keep them firmly in place (periodontium). This is called periodontitis. You can read about what can be done to stop it from getting worse and preventative oral hygiene.

Gingivitis and periodontitis: Treatment of periodontitis: Cleaning, scaling, care

Advanced periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen and fall out. Treating the disease in a systematic way can usually stop periodontitis from getting worse. Good oral hygiene is absolutely essential for treatment success.Besides caring for teeth and gums, there are several different ways for dentists to prevent or treat periodontitis. Systematic treatment of periodontitis consists of the following steps:Improved oral hygiene and professional teeth-cleaningRemoving film and deposits below the gumline (subgingival scaling) and planing the roots of the teethConfirmation of treatment successSurgery with local anesthetic, if neededFollow-up careStatutory insurers in Germany will cover some of the costs involved in the systematic treatment of periodontitis, but a special request must be filed in advance. This should include a treatment and cost plan provided by your dentist. Your health insurer can let you know which services will be covered in your specific case.

How does the periodontium work?

The periodontium keeps our teeth firmly in place.

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More about Gingivitis

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Gum inflammation, Inflamed gums

See Also: Periodontitis

Other terms to know:
Inflammation, Plaque, Tartar

Keep up with systematic reviews on Gingivitis:


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