Gingivitis or gingival inflammation is the most common gum disease that forms at the base of your teeth and in between them due to the dental plaque. Common symptoms are: swollen and bleeding gums, redness and mild sore.
Gingivitis is reversible. The most effective treatment is adequate oral hygiene, brushing and flossing twice a day. When the gum inflammation is more severe, your doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic round: Amoxicillin (Augmentin), Clindamycin (Cleocin), Erythromycin (Ery-Tab), Ticarcillin (Timentin), Metronidazole (Flagyl).
A good antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine or Corsodyl can help you to kill bad bacteria.
There are additional gum disease home remedies to reduce gingivitis symptoms: coconut oil pulling, warm salt water rinse and hydrogen peroxide.
In case of severe gingivitis, professional tooth cleaning is required. In addition, the dentist can prescribe drugs such as antibiotics to effectively counter the ongoing infection, relieve pain, and treat bacterial gum inflammation.
Without treatment, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis that causes the soft tissue destruction and the jawbone reabsorption. The last step of periodontitis is the tooth loss.
Let’s dispel a myth, gingivitis is not contagious and you cannot spread it with a kiss. Nevertheless, it can be very unpleasant as it causes bad breath (halitosis).
Swollen gums and redness are early signs of increased blood flow and antibodies within the gum tissue. Such a redness is the proof that our body is trying to fight the gum inflammation.
Main gingivitis cause
The main cause of gingivitis is the bacterial plaque that forms in the gum pockets between the tooth and the gingival tissue (gingival sulcus) which is about 2 mm deep in normal condition.
If not removed, the plaque produces toxins that irritate the surrounding tissues.
At this early stage, gingivitis is reversible because it has not yet affected the alveolar bone and the periodontal ligament that are the elements that hold teeth in place.
If the plaque hardens, the tartar forms. Only the dentist or dental hygienist can remove the tartar from your teeth. The toothbrush and floss can no longer provide you with an effective oral hygiene.
If bacteria that cause gum disease are not removed, they dig and cause periodontal pockets. In the last stage of gingivitis, the infection affects the bone that begins to reabsorb. The teeth have less stability. This is the reason why gingival inflammation and periodontitis are the most frequent teeth loss reason.
Less common causes
All medicines have side effects (except for homeopathic remedies), this is a fact we all know. There are some medications that can induce gingivitis as side effects or secondary effects.
The most known are:
- depression medications (antidepressants);
- antiepileptic drugs (Anticonvulsants);
- cortisone based drugs;
- birth control pills (oral contraceptives);
- calcium channel blockers;
The most common symptom of gingivitis by medication is the overgrowth (hyperplasia) of the gum tissue that becomes swollen, irritate and very sensitive. Due to the increased sensitivity, people tend to avoid to brush and floss because of pain or bleeding fear. In this situation it is easy for dental plaque to accumulate especially between and behind lower front teeth. As much plaque accumulates as gingivitis gets worsen.
Gingivitis caused by dentures or inadequate dental crown
There are two different periods in which you may experience gingivitis from dentures First, immediately after teeth extraction and immediate denture placement. Second when the prosthesis get loose due to the gums and bone reshaping.
Gum swelling and pain will disappear once healing is complete. The dental technician will relieve any sore spots the denture may cause and adjust them.
As mentioned above, after some time, gums and bone change their shape and dentures become loose. The dentures rubbing against the soft mouth tissue may lead to chronic inflammation and pain To solve this problem you should go back to your dentist and ask for a denture reline.
In case of dental restoration using dental crowns, the dentist has to place them in the right way. The risk is to offer plaque a great place where to accumulate. When a dental crown doesn’t meet the gumline properly a small gap forms giving plaque a refuge difficult to keep clean.
Gum disease because of braces
Keeping a good oral hygiene is already hard in normal condition. Braces can make it harder. It is easy to accidentally leave small food debris in between your teeth partially covered by brackets and archwire.
When bacteria find that food they grow in number and dental plaque accumulates around the neck of your teeth. The result is that plaque attacks the enamel of the dental elements as well as the soft tissue of your gingiva. In addition to gum disease you may experience bleeding and receding gum as well. These are reasons why dental braces can be gingivitis cause.
During the orthodontics treatment you should pay more attention to your daily oral care. A water flosser is very useful to remove food from behind teeth and from braces especially from the back part of the mouth.
Gingivitis after teeth cleaning at the dental office
Gingivitis after professional teeth cleaning at the dentist’s office is not a real periodontal inflammation but only an irritation of the tissue that is particularly sensitive to the procedure of the dental hygienist. This gum inflammation lasts about two or three days and resolves by its own without any need for medication.
Gum disease from stress
We are all in rush, there is never time to do anything, we are always late. The constant anxiety that we are subjected to, the daily worries, the work uncertainty are all factors that raise up the stress level. In the long run, our body must discharge the accumulated stress and it does it at the expense of our immune system. The gingivitis caused by stress is the relief valve found by our body to lighten the burden.
Gingivitis caused by wisdom teeth (pericoronitis)
Impacted or partial retained wisdom teeth may trap food debrides in the back portion of the gums that is difficult to keep clean due to the uncomfortable position. In this situation it is easy for plaque to accumulate causing both gum disease and tooth decay.
Gum disease due to vitamin deficiency (C, B12 and D)
Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) symptoms are: inflamed, swollen and bleeding gums. In addition, small red dots may appear in the mouth.
Niacin (vitamin B3 or Vitamin PP ) deficiency also causes gingivitis and inflamed gums. Vitamin B3 deficiency predisposes to certain mouth infections, such as thrush, or to tongue inflammation called glossitis. Additionally, the lips become red and cracked.
Gingivitis due to hormone changes (pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause)
Pregnancy gingivitis may appear because hormonal changes modify the saliva quality and quantity. Some pregnant women may contribute to increase the problem by skipping oral hygiene because they feel nauseated in the morning, fatigued or too busy with the baby.
Desquamative gingivitis affects women during and after menopause. Hormone replacement therapy may help to reduce symptoms of this painful condition.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco;
- Xerostomia (dry mouth);
- Poor nutrition, (especially vitamin C deficiency);
- Inadequate dental restorations;
- Crooked teeth that are difficult to keep clean;
- Conditions that decrease immunity such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS or diabetes;
- Medical conditions such as particular viral and fungal infections.
Gingival inflammation symptoms
Gingivitis is a silent oral pathology and you may aren’t aware that your gingiva is affected by bacterial infection. However, the most common signs and symptoms of gingivitis may include:
- Gingival tissue is red, tender, and/or swollen;
- Gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth or even by them self;
- Gums are no longer attached to the teeth;
- Loose teeth;
- In severe cases you may see pus at the gumline and between teeth;
- Pain when chewing;
- Sensitive teeth;
- partial dentures that no longer fit to the supporting gingiva;
- Bad breath (halitosis) that doesn’t go away after you brush your teeth;
- Receding gums.
8 Gum disease treatment and home remedies
1 – Coconut oil pulling gum disease treatment
Coconut oil pulling is the first effective home remedy of our list you can use as gum disease treatment to get rid of gingivitis in the natural way.
Well known in Ayurvedic medicine, coconut extract is a common way to decrease the amount of bad bacteria in your mouth preventing gum disease, tooth cavities and gum abscess.
Bacteria that cause inflamed gums and that are living in the oral cavity are unicellular organisms. The fat part of the coconut oil naturally attract the skin of that organisms who remain trapped in the oil itself. So, after swishing, when you spit the oil you also spit bacteria.
The procedure to use this natural rinse is very easy. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and swish between your teeth for 10–20 minutes. Be carefully and do not swallow the natural rinse because it contains toxins. Add this procedure to your daily oral hygiene routine and repeat it, at least, 3 times a week to get the best results.
If gingivitis caused you particular painful and swollen spots, coconut oil can be used to gently massage the sore area with your finger.
2 – Essential oils gum disease treatment
There are different essential oils you can use for pulling as gingivitis home remedy.
Here is a brief list of essential oils that can help you to reduce gingivitis symptoms such as redness, swollen and bleeding gums, high sensibility and pain.
3 – Warm salt water rinse as gingivitis home remedy
Salt water rinse is the most known and used gum disease remedy simply because it works, especially at the early stage of the gum inflammation.
When you see the first gingivitis symptoms like gingival bleeding, redness and soft tissue swelling, just melt half tablespoon of salt in half glass of warm water. As soon as the mix is ready, keep it in your mouth swishing the liquid around in the oral cavity especially between the teeth. It takes 20 to 30 seconds not more.
Once done, spit the solution and pay attention not to swallow it. Repeat the procedure two or three times a day for one week. Even if this is a natural remedy for inflamed gums, there are side effects. Salt water changes the mouth pH to acidic (below 5.5) and this may erode the teeth enamel.
Salt water rinse is also indicated after oral surgery and in case of gum pockets and receding gums.
4 – Baking soda toothpaste and mouthwash (sodium bicarbonate) for inflamed gums
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda is a well know ingredient for cooking, to make cleaning soap and used as gingivitis natural remedy. Baking soda toothpaste works balancing the pH of the oral cavity that when it is too acidic promotes the dental plaque accumulation at the gum-line level.
In order to use the baking soda toothpaste to brush your teeth and remove bacteria and to reduce gum disease symptoms, you have two choices. First you can buy a good quality toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate or you can do it at home by your own.
The procedure is very easy, just put 1/2 tsp baking soda in 1 fl oz of plain water and mix well until sodium bicarbonate will be completed melted then use the resulting paste as conventional toothpaste.
Toothpaste with baking soda is also used to whiten teeth thank to its abrasive action; that’s why you should pay attention while brushing because you could ruin the enamel of your teeth.
Baking soda mouthwash is useful to treat and prevent halitosis (bad breath) and promotes healing of mouth ulcers and sores.
5 – Hydrogen peroxide mouthwash reduces inflammation
Classified as an oral debriding agent and an oral wound cleanser, hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is an effective antimicrobial to reduce gingival inflammation and oral wounds.
You can make your hydrogen peroxide mouthwash at home by mixing equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with water. Swish the rinse in your mouth for up to a minute and then spit it out. Repeat the procedure three times a day and your gingival inflammation will be reduced, the infection and the gum boil diminished quickly.
6 – Remove more plaque with Water flosser / waterpik
As mentioned above, gingival inflammation occurs when bacteria contained in plaque releases toxins that irritate gums and cause irritation, leading to infection and bad breath. If not removed daily, plaque can accumulate between your teeth and around the gums creating tartar calculus.
Because many people don’t floss in the right way or at all, Waterpik Water Flosser is often more effective than string. It makes flossing easier because it easily reaches the tight spaces between your teeth and surfaces below the gumline. Waterpik is also effective in reducing the gum pockets depth.
7 – Aloe Vera gingivitis home remedy
Aloe Vera gel is an herbal remedy with analgesic , anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and wound-healing properties. This plant has been used therapeutically, certainly since the Roman times.
Aloe Vera gel provides effective relief for painful, bleeding and swelling gums and antifungal for thrush, an oral infection caused by yeast. Last but not least, Aloe Vera gel may help to reduce gum pockets depth.
In order to use Aloe Vera as gingivitis natural remedy, you can choose from daily usage as mouthwash or as gel to gently apply onto your inflamed gingival tissue twice a day for 2 months.
8 – Tea tree oil as gingival inflammation pain relief
Tea tree oil is derived from the Melaleuca tree that comes from Australia and it is effective as an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and as generic anti-inflammatory. Melaleuca is an important ingredient you can find in many natural products like body washes, acne treatments, skin care, shampoos, etc.
To naturally reduce gingivitis symptoms with Tea Tree Oil you should apply 2-3 drops onto inflamed gums twice each day until pain subsides. Alternatively, put 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil to a glass of water. Swish around your mouth for a minute or two and spit. That’s all.
Treating gingivitis with scaling / root planing by the dentist
Most of the times, if caught in time in its early stage, gum disease is easy to cure just going to the doctor to get your teeth and gums cleaned professionally.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will use ultrasonic and manual tool like curette or scalers to remove plaque and tartar from the base of your dental element as well as below the gumline (the line separating the gum from the exposed part of the tooth). The techniques hi/she will use are called scaling / root planning.
In order to extend the effect, the dentist can place local antibiotic microspheres or timed-release antiseptic medications to be sure to get a long last antiseptic action.
Gum disease antibacterial mouthwashes brands
- Curasept ADS (Anti-Discoloration System).
Available in two strengths 0.2% or 0.05% CHX – chlorhexidine digluconate – and 0.05 % F – sodium fluoride
Listerine is an antiseptic oral rinse with the following ingredients: eucalyptol, menthol, thymol and methyl salicylate. Except for methyl salicylate, that is known as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, all others are just antiseptic.
- Corsodyl mouthwash (and gel) with chlorhexidine digluconate.
Corsodyl contains 0.2% of chlorhexidine digluconate and it is alcohol free.
Most used gingivitis antibiotics
- Amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (Augmentin)
- Clindamycin (Cleocin)
- Erythromycin (EES, E-Mycin, Ery-Tab)
- Penicillin VK (Veetids)
- Ampicillin and sulbactam (Unasyn)
- Ticarcillin and clavulanate (Timentin)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
Gingivitis antibiotics listed above should be prescribed by your doctor or dentist as they may also cause serious side effects especially in particular situations such as pregnancy and breastfeeding. We strongly recommend our readers not to practice self-diagnosis and/or, self-medication on personal initiative or on the advice of friends or relatives.
Sometimes, gingivitis antibiotics may cause dysentery (diarrhea). As soon as you notice any side effects or hypersensitivity to one or the other antibiotic, you should immediately inform the dentist.
Gum Surgery to heal severe gingivitis
In case of complicated or severe gum disease, the last chance is the oral surgery. Here are the most frequent techniques used by oral surgeons:
Flap surgery is a procedure where the gums are lifted back after plaque and tartar have been removed from deeper pockets. The soft tissue is then sutured in place to fit again around the tooth.
Gingivectomy surgery procedure
Gingivectomy is necessary when the gums have pulled away from the teeth creating deep pockets. It is very hard to remove plaque and calculus within the pockets. Gingivectomy is usually done before gum disease has affected the teeth supporting jawbone.
Gingivitis Laser therapy
Laser treatment for periodontal disease is not a standalone or alternative method to the traditional non-surgical therapy like scaling and root planing. Laser is often used in conjunction with manual debridement techniques to achieve the best result possible and remove the infection one and forever.
What to eat while you have inflamed gums ?
The best diet while you are suffering because of inflamed gums includes: fruits and vegetables, which contain many antioxidants, including vitamin C and E, which help to fight gingival irritation.
It is important to eat foods rich in calcium and yogurt with active milk enzymes because they help to strengthen the immune system.
Vitamin D deficiencies can be treated with supplements and a specific food like fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon).
Additional nutrients and supplements
- Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) antioxidant action;
- Omega-3s well known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Gum inflammation prevention
- Adequate home oral hygiene.
That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Better yet, brush after every meal or snack or as your dentist recommends. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.
- Regular checkup and professional cleanings by the dentist.
See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having dry mouth, taking certain medications or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often. Annual dental X-rays can help identify diseases that are not seen by a visual dental examination and monitor for changes in your dental health.
- Healthy lifestyle and habits
Practices such as healthy eating and managing blood sugar if you have diabetes are also important to maintain gum health.
Severe types of periodontal infection
- Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis;
- Desquamative gingivitis;
- Vincent’s infection (stomatitis, angina, or trench mouth).