Gingivitis: A Common Condition

Dossier : Gingivitis: causes, prevention and treatment

gingivitis symptoms

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum, the tissue surrounding the tooth. The gums become red and swollen as a result. Bleeding gums during brushing is often the first symptom of this inflammation. Gingivitis can affect anyone at any age.  In the beginning, it does not cause any pain. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can evolve and become painful. To avoid gingivitis it’s important to stick to a daily routine of regular brushing and using mouthwash. We recommend using TEETH AND GUM DEFENCE LISTERINE® ANTI-BACTERIAL MOUTHWASH as part of this routine. Formulated with added fluoride, it can help strengthen your teeth against decay and help prevent the problem from starting by removing plaque - the main cause of gingivitis.


The major cause of gingivitis is the build-up of plaque on the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria which attack the gum and cause inflammation.

There are three different stages of gingivitis, each one presenting different symptoms:

  • Stage 1: Initial lesion

The gingivitis is mild. Brushing the teeth causes light bleeding. The redness of the gums is barely noticeable.

  • Stage 2: Early lesion

The gingivitis is moderate. Bleeding caused by brushing is more significant, the gums are red and swelling appears.

  • Stage 3: Established lesion

The gingivitis is severe. Bleeding happens spontaneously. The junctional epithelium which adheres the gum to the tooth is affected. With the gum no longer adhering to the tooth surface, the gingival sulcus (the space between the gum and the tooth) widens.

The gingivitis is reversible. With the principal cause of gingivitis being the presence of plaque, a visit to the dentist and good oral hygiene will help clear up the problem. 


gingivitis a common condition


If nothing is done to fight against plaque and to counter the action of the bacteria, they can attack all the tooth's supporting tissues known as the periodontium (gum, alveolar bone, periodontal ligament and cementum).

If the infection is not treated it can go as far as destroying the ligaments of the tooth and the surrounding tissues and the gum gradually separates from the tooth. The space created is known as the periodontal pocket. The gums are then swollen, red and sensitive to the point of hampering the chewing action. 

The inflammation reaches the alveolar bone, at the tooth's root level, and attacks it. The tooth loosens to the point of becoming completely loose.

We refer here then to periodontitis, the principal cause of tooth loss in adults. In acute cases, abscesses and bad breath can develop.


Not all cases of gingivitis develops into periodontitis. We do not exactly know the reasons for this evolution. The quantity and aggression of the bacteria as well as the host's immune system response are involved.

The most common form of periodontitis is chronic periodontitis. It develops little by little between the ages of 30 and 40 years old and follows on from gingivitis that developed during adolescence and which has been present throughout the patient's life.

Another form of periodontitis can suddenly appear: acute periodontitis develops rapidly. 

Periodontitis can only be treated by a dentist. If you have redness, bleeding, swelling or toothache, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. 

Ref: J&J internal data

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