Lincoln Square (773) 654-3575 2328 W Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

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Gingivitis: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, & Prevention

Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. Our dentists in Lincoln Square know it’s important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it as quickly as possible.


Your gums attach to your teeth at a point lower than what we see. This forms a small space called a sulcus. Food and plaque can get trapped in this space, causing a gum infection or gingivitis.

Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth and becomes tartar as it hardens. Tartar is significantly more difficult to remove and creates a protective shield for bacteria.

The longer that plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva, causing inflammation and eventually swelling and bleeding.

Risk Factors

These are some common risk factors for gingivitis:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Crooked teeth
  • Older age
  • Dry mouth
  • Dental appliances that fit poorly
  • Broken filings


The following can be symptoms of gingivitis:

  • Gums that are tender, red, swollen or bleed when you brush
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away after brushing


Good oral hygiene – Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. Flossing before brushing cleans away food particles and bacteria.

Regular dental visits – See your dentist in Lincoln Square for regular cleanings every 6 months, and more often if you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing gingivitis.

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