Ask the Dentist: What is Gingivitis?

Healthy Gums vs Unhealthy Gums

Healthy Gums vs Unhealthy Gums


What is Gingivitis and why is it important to understand when it comes to your health?

Facts from the 2018 National Oral Health Report

  • 19.8 % of adults aged over 15, have periodontal pockets greater than 4mm in width. Periodontal pockets are deep spaces between your teeth and gums that contain plaque and oral bacteria. As these pockets develop, your gums start to pull away and detach from your teeth irreversibly, leading to receding gums and potential tooth loss. If you have periodontal pockets, then you probably have gum disease (periodontitis).

  • Australians aren’t brushing their teeth enough. Half of all Australian adults do not brush their teeth twice a day as recommended. Over a 24 hour period, the development of plaque and tooth decay can progress significantly. 

  • Poor childhood oral health is a high risk factor for poor oral health outcomes in adults. Over 22,000 Australian children aged less than 9 years old were hospitalised for oral health problems. All of these cases could have been prevented through proper oral care and hygiene, and access to free dental services via the Children Dental Benefit Schedule (CDBS).

Periodontal disease or gum disease is common in Australia and research released from the 2018 National Oral Health Report shows that about 20% of the population are suffering from it. The prevalence of gum disease in those over 65 years of age have rates closer to 50%. And the first step to periodontal disease is almost always gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

If your health is one of the most important things in your life, then you should know that your dental health is a vital component to good health.  So fighting gingivitis should be very important to you.

Good health comes by preventing toxins, viruses and bacteria from entering your mouth or body. And because your mouth is an easy target for bacteria, poor oral hygiene or preventive care can cause the early stages of gum disease, also known as gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to far more serious oral health conditions.

In this blog, you’ll learn about gum disease, its symptoms, and how to deal with it, and by the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know if or when you’re developing a gum problem that requires treatment. If you are aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for, you’ll also have an idea of how to prevent gingivitis or catch it early enough to reverse it with the help of Capstone Dental Seven Hills.  To help you with this task, Dr Ken Chan and the team at Capstone Dental Seven Hills has put together this blog with a collection of information about gingivitis, its causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options available.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is made up of two words - “gingiva” which means gum/s and - “itis” which means inflammation. So gingivitis means gum inflammation --  an extremely common, early, and treatable form of periodontal disease. But if gingivitis is untreated, it can lead to a severe inflammation and infection of the gums, teeth, and small periodontal ligaments that link your teeth to the bone and the tooth socket. Eventually, if continued to be left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, or worse.

What’s the difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

It is important to understand that Gingivitis is NOT gum disease. Gum disease is called Periodontitis. It is important to understand this distinction because Gingivitis won’t cause any permanent damage to the gums and bones that hold the teeth in the jaw but Gum Disease (Periodontitis) will cause permanent damage that can’t be reversed. And while Gingivitis won’t always lead to Gum Disease (Periodontitis), it is often what occurs before gum disease occurs inside the mouth.


Plaque and Gingivitis

Plaque buildup is the culprit in gingivitis. Plaque is made from a mixture of your saliva and all the leftover food scraps inside of your mouth and it often gets caught along the gumline and in between your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed during brush and flossing, it slowly forms and calcifies into tartar (also known as calculus), a hard rocky cement version of plaque which gets stuck and trapped at the gumline of your teeth. This leads to bleeding, sensitive, infected, and inflamed gums. If this condition is left unaddressed, it can turn into periodontitis, causing receding gums, sensitive teeth, and in severe cases wobbly and loose teeth that fall out.

Signs & Symptoms

You may have some or many symptoms but its important to understand that gum disease is often painless, which makes it critical to detect any of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen, red, or tender/sore gums

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing

  • Gums that bleed spontaneously

  • Constant buildup of plaque along the gums

  • Receding gums, or ‘flappy’ gums that lift up from the tooth

  • Chronic bad breath or an ongoing bad taste in your mouth

  • Loose or wobbly teeth

  • Changes in how your teeth come together

  • Changes in the fit of your partial dentures

  • Pus or abscess around the teeth and gums

Stages of Gum Disease

Stages of Gum Disease

The Common Causes and factors for Gingivitis

If any of the factors mentioned below apply to you, please do pay extra attention to your teeth and gum line.

  • Not brushing or flossing enough or incorrect techniques is one of the most easily avoided factors in gingivitis. Read our blog on the Best techniques on how to brush your teeth

  • Smoking/tobacco use is one of the most common risk factors associated with gum disease. It can also decrease the chances of successful treatment because it affects the blood circulation of the body. Smokers are 7 times more likely to have gum disease than non-smokers.

  • Hormonal changes including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and monthly menstruation cause increased sensitivity and inflammation in your gums.

  • Poor diet and nutrition makes it more difficult for the body to fight gum disease, and some vitamins are demonstrated to improve gum and bone health.

  • Medications for many conditions can affect oral health.

  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, HIV, and cancer affect the body’s ability to fight gingivitis.

Prevention of Gingivitis/How to avoid Gingivitis

Gingivitis may be prevented or managed using simple preventative measures:

  • Brush your teeth, gums, and tongue daily. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day. Upon awakening, at night, and after meals if possible. Remember that you don’t just brush your teeth, but also the gumline so brush your toothbrush bristles gently towards the gum/tooth intersection. Read our blog on the Best techniques on how to brush your teeth

  • Floss at least once daily, ideally before going to bed.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which is less likely to damage teeth or gums, and don’t brush too hard, which can actually damage teeth. Replace your toothbrush every three months, or after illnesses like the flu.

  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride.

  • Minimise your snacking habits especially after dinner and brushing your teeth.

  • Chew on chewing gum, rinse with and drink water regularly, or brush after snacking.

  • Rinse with an effective mouthwash – we don’t recommend the long term use of mouthwash but Capstone Dental can help you make the appropriate choice for what type to buy. We generally recommend Savacol or Curasept to be used for up to 2 weeks only

  • Visit Capstone Dental at least once every six months for a routine examination, scale and clean.

  • Avoid sugary foods, tobacco products, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or using recreational drugs.

  • Be aware of additional risk factors. Ageing, smoking, diet and genetics can increase the likelihood of gingivitis. If you have an increased risk factor, be sure to talk with Capstone Dental Seven Hills about it.


At Capstone Dental, we want to make it easier for you to look after your teeth and gums and avoid gingivitis and gum disease. So we offer No Gap General Check-up, Scale and Clean, X-rays and Fluoride treatment (with any health insurance)

Are you looking for modern and gentle dentist who will look after you and your family? Then welcome to Capstone Dental - we are within minutes from Toongabbie, Prospect, Blacktown, Lalor Park, Baulkham Hills, Girraween, Kings Langley, Bella Vista

Call (02) 8605 1696 or visit us at Shop 55 Seven Hills Plaza 224 Prospect Highway Seven Hills NSW 2147