What Causes Gingivitis?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all American adults ages 30 or older have some form of gum disease. In adults over the age of 65, the rate increases to 70 percent. When left untreated, gum disease destroys the gums and the bone that supports the teeth.

In this blog post, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez explains what causes the most common and mild form of gum disease, known as gingivitis.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of gingivitis. People that do not brush twice a day, floss daily or see their dentist regularly put themselves at a heightened risk of developing gum disease.

Brushing and flossing are critical to removing plaque, a sticky film composed of bacteria, food debris and mucus, from the teeth and gum line. If left on the teeth, plaque hardens into tartar or calculus, which is more difficult to remove. The longer plaque and tartar sit on the teeth, the more they irritate and inflame the gum tissue. As a result, the gum tissue becomes swollen and starts to bleed.


The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy increase the risk of developing gingivitis. The gums are more likely to become tender, irritated and swollen during pregnancy. Blood flow to the gum tissue increases and a surge of progesterone promotes bacteria growth in the mouth and suppresses the body’s normal immune response.

Expecting mothers are encouraged to schedule more frequent dental visits. During these visits, the dental hygienist and dentist can remove plaque and bacteria to prevent build-up and control inflammation.

Uncontrolled Diabetes

Diabetes has been linked to a high occurrence of gingivitis. Diabetes affects the blood vessels and causes an uptick in inflammatory chemicals that raise the risk of developing gingivitis.

Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean and therefore more likely to harbor bacteria and plaque that causes gingivitis.

Poorly Contoured Restorations

Fillings or crowns that are poorly contoured can trap debris and plaque, increasing the risk of developing gingivitis.

“I Have Gingivitis – Now What?”

Sticking to a daily routine to reduce bacteria in the mouth and regularly following up with a dentist can reduce gingivitis and promote oral health. Dr. Hernandez offers special treatments like deep cleaning, planing and root scaling to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline and smooth the tooth root.

To speak with Dr. Hernandez about treating gingivitis, please contact our Pacific Beach dental practice and request a consultation. Call 858-272-6047 or email us today.


4460 Olney Street

San Diego, CA 92109

(858) 272-6047

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