Synonyms: Gum disease, Periodontal disease

Medical Specialties: Other

Clinical Definition

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial growth in the mouth. If not properly treated, it can progress to periodontal disease and end up destroying the tissue that supports the teeth, leading to tooth loss.

In Our Own Words

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease caused by the buildup of bacteria. Bacteria cause the gums to swell up, often making them bleed during tooth brushing. Often caused by poor oral hygiene, other factors influence the condition, like diabetes, smoking, genetics and hormonal fluctuations.


In recent clinical studies, the beneficial effect of hydrogen peroxide has been highlighted. If left untreated, gingivitis will progress into more serious gum disease called periodontitis, which can eventually lead to tooth loss and other oral maladies.

Relevant Conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Tooth loss
  • Cigarette smoking
Common Types
  • Chronic gingivitis
  • Gingivitis with aggressive periodontitis
Side Effects
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Bad breath
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. Diseases and Conditions. Accessed August 2013.
  • Sambunjak, D.; Nickerson, J. W.; Poklepovic, T.; Johnson, T. M, et al.  "Flossing for the management of periodontal diseases and dental caries in adults.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011. Oral Health Group. Accessed Sept. 2013.
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