How to Treat Gingivitis

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If brushing your teeth makes your gums swell, hurt or bleed, you might have gingivitis. But don't worry — gingivitis is reversible and preventable! With early intervention, your dental professional can treat and even reverse its effects. Start healing your gums today by setting up a dental appointment and improving your oral hygiene routine.

What Causes Gingivitis?

Gingivitis, known as the earliest stage of gum disease, occurs when plaque or tartar builds up around your gumline and causes your gums to become inflamed. This inflammation can cause the gums to become bright red, swell, feel tender, and even bleed after brushing or flossing. However, not everyone with gingivitis experiences these symptoms, and many have the condition for a long time without even realising it. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more severe forms of periodontal disease, such as periodontitis, which can cause permanent damage to your teeth, gums and jawbone.

How to Treat Gingivitis

Can you cure gingivitis? Absolutely. With the help of your dental professional and consistent oral care at home, your gums will thank you for the extra attention.

Professional Dental Treatment for Gingivitis

At your next oral exam, the dentist, dental therapist or dental hygienist can diagnose gingivitis just by looking at your teeth and gums. A thorough cleaning will remove any plaque from the surfaces of your teeth or under your gumline that causes inflammation. If the plaque calcifies, your teeth might require more advanced techniques known as scaling and root planing to thoroughly remove all the tartar and smooth the root surfaces that trap bacteria. Your dentist will examine any tooth positioning abnormalities or dental work — such as crowns, bridges or restorations — and make recommendations for any repairs that might make it easier for you to clean your gums and teeth at home. For more severe cases, your dental professional might use a dental probe to measure any pockets that develop at the gumline to see if the condition is progressing.

Consistent Oral Care Routine to Fight Gingivitis

After you receive an exam and dental hygiene treatment, your gingivitis care has just begun. Your dentist, dental therapist or dental hygienist will give instructions on a proper home oral routine, but at the very minimum, follow these guidelines:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. If regular brushing is already part of your routine, double-check that you are using the correct technique. Your healing gums might require a gentler touch first, so make sure you are using a soft-bristled brush and applying the right amount of pressure.
  • Clean between your teeth once a day. Daily flossing between your teeth and under your gumline will remove irritants like bacteria and food debris and help reduce inflammation. Also, try other interdental cleaners like brushes or water flossers.
  • Add a mouth rinse for extra protection. An over-the-counter mouth rinse provides an additional method for treating infection and controlling bacterial growth in the mouth, especially after receiving a professional dental hygiene treatment. Look for an antiseptic mouthwash or ask your dental professional for a recommendation.

Gingivitis Prevention

Your gingivitis cure begins with taking ownership of your oral health. If you notice any tenderness, swelling or bleeding in your gums, make an appointment with your dental practice. By detecting gingivitis symptoms early and seeking treatment, you can more quickly and easily relieve your symptoms and restore your gum health.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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