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How common is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease and can be very common. It causes the gums to become red and swollen and to bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort and it can be reversed with treatment in the dental office and good oral care at home.

People who smoke or chew tobacco are more likely to have periodontal disease. Other risk factors include certain medications such as steroids, anti-seizure drugs, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure pills and birth control pills that affect the gums and people with systemic diseases such as diabetes, blood disorders, HIV and AIDS, that can lower the body's resistance to infection. Teens, pregnant women and those taking birth control pills face changes in the body's hormone levels, which can cause gum tissue to become more sensitive to the toxins produced by bacteria. Genes may also play a role. Some patients may be more likely to get a more severe type of periodontitis. If your parents wear dentures or you have a family history of tooth loss, be extra alert for changes to your gums. Finally, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between partners. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can be passed through saliva.

If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease. The best way to prevent gingivitis is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile your entire life.
Carol Jahn
Dentist
Gingivitis is very common. It happens to almost everyone at some time in their lives. It can be generalized -- throughout the entire mouth or around a single tooth. If you have orthodontic appliances, a crown, bridge, or implant, these can make cleaning your mouth more challenging and may increase the risk for gingivitis. Some health conditions can predispose people to gingivitis such as having diabetes or the hormonal changes from pregnancy. 
Gingivitis is actually very common in normal individuals; more than 50% of the US adult population have been been observed to have gum bleeding. You may not even realize it when you develop a mild case. Certain groups of people, such as those with diabetes or leukemia, pregnant or postmenopausal women, and smokers are more likely to develop gingivitis. However, good oral hygiene and regular dental care can reverse gingivitis or prevent it from developing in the first place.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.