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Gingivitis means ‘Inflammation of the gums’ and is caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms naturally on the surface of the teeth every day and is harmless in its early stages. Plaque is also sometimes referred to as ‘biofilm’

When plaque (biofilm) is not effectively disrupted every day and is allowed to mature, it starts to release destructive bacterial bi-products and the body’s immune system responds by creating an inflammatory response to protect the body/gums from further attack.

Potentially anybody can get gingivitis at any age. As described above, if plaque is left to accumulate long enough then the body will respond. However, different people will respond to the plaque at different rates. Some people may respond to plaque that is only 1 day old while others may not respond until the plaque has been left much longer. It is thought that most people will suffer an attack of gingivitis at some stage in their lives.

Similar to inflammation anywhere in the human body, the symptoms are consistent with the increased blood flow to an area as the body tries to overcome the presence of bacteria. You may have some or all of the symptoms which include gums that are swollen, red or shiny, bleed when you brush or floss them, feel tender to touch or have a bad taste.

Healthy gums should look pale pink in colour, be firm, not uncomfortable to touch and will never bleed when brushed or flossed.

Sometimes yes, although technically it’s the mature plaque that causes the odour rather than the inflammation in the gums. If plaque is not removed regularly and is allowed to mature it becomes a medium for anaerobic bacteria which can release a foul-smelling odour resulting in bad breath.

Gingivitis is considered the early stages of gum disease however; unlike more established gum disease which also affects the bone supporting the teeth and can lead to tooth loss; gingivitis only affects the gum tissue and can be completely reversed with the correct treatment. Leaving gingivitis untreated doesn’t necessarily mean you will go on to develop the more serious form of gum disease (periodontitis) but the chances of this happening are significantly increased.

Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat however its success is highly dependent on adequate daily plaque control and therefore your role in treatment is crucial. We will show you techniques aimed at cleaning your teeth to a very high standard so that bacteria levels are below the level that triggers inflammation. This differs from one person the next but without adequate home care elimination of gingivitis will not occur.

You may initially experience an increase in bleeding as you adopt new cleaning techniques but this should settle within a few days as the inflammation subsides. Once you are successfully controlling the plaque build-up, we will help by removing the deposits that you cannot reach and are attached firmly to the teeth (known as tartar or calculus) This will usually be done over one or two visits. Once eliminated, it is important that you continue to practice excellent daily plaque control to prevent future attacks.

This is not an infection. It is the body reacting to removable plaque. When the plaque is physically removed by you and us, the inflammation will resolve and the disease will stabilise without the need for antibiotics. All that antibiotics would do is kill the bacteria whilst you were taking the medication. The mouth is the perfect breeding ground for plaque. As soon as you stop the course of antibiotics, the bacteria would return and the problem would restart.

Dental Hygienists are specifically trained in the treatment and prevention of gum disease. This is their field of expertise and they are trained to very high standards.

You have been referred to our in-house hygienist, Faye Donald, who has over 20 years’ experience in the dental industry and has worked alongside a periodontal gum specialist for over 10 years. She has completed additional training in the management of gum disease and has twice been awarded the prestigious title of ‘UK’s Best Hygienist’. Faye also lectures to other hygienists nationally and internationally and we believe is the best person at York Place Dental Practice to deal with your gum problems.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call us or you can email us at

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