Author: Lizzie Smith – blog last updated on Wednesday 4th October 2023
An imbalance of the oral flora and excess harmful bacteria usually causes gingivitis. Other factors, ranging from brushing too hard to malnutrition or an underlying condition, may also play a role. A combination of causes and factors can also occur.
In this article, we list the most common causes and factors. So, if you’re suffering from inflamed, swollen, bleeding or receding gum, you can take appropriate measures to remedy it.
1. Plaque and tartar
Gingivitis (gum inflammation) is caused by bacteria that, besides food remains and saliva, form dental plaque. If you don’t remove this invisible layer twice daily, you’re breeding bacteria in your mouth. Plaque not only sticks to the surfaces of your teeth but especially to the border between teeth and gums, and between your teeth.
Under the influence of minerals such as calcium, plaque that isn’t removed hardens into tartar. As tartar is porous, even more plaque can remain on your teeth, becoming tartar. The longer you allow this vicious cycle to continue, the more likely you’ll have inflamed gums and caries (cavities).
The good news is you can remedy and prevent this cause of inflamed gums by removing plaque twice daily through brushing. Research shows that an electric toothbrush does this better than a manual toothbrush. In addition, you should clean the interdental spaces daily with dental floss, floss arches, toothpicks or toothbrushes (interdental brushes). Then rinse with a good mouthwash.
No matter how well you remove plaque, some tartar will eventually form. Be alert and visit your dental hygienist or dentist regularly for dental cleaning. If necessary, remove the supra-gingival (visible) tartar yourself with the Moist-R Whitening Sponge or the Profi Dental Hook. Read more about that here.
2. Harmful ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwash
As strange as it sounds, quite a few toothpastes and mouthwashes contain ingredients that aren’t good for oral health. In the fight against inflamed gums, many products use aggressive antiseptic agents such as chlorhexidine, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Whilst they do kill the harmful bacteria, they also kill the useful ones, affecting the oral cavity’s natural balance. In addition to antiseptic agents such as alcohol, triclosan and peroxide, these products often contain even more harmful ingredients, such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate), and synthetic colours and flavours.
Fortunately, there are also oral care products that effectively kill harmful bacteria without disrupting the balance of the oral flora.
JuliBrite toothpaste and mouthwash are incredibly effective against harmful bacteria while at the same time supporting the balance of the oral flora. They work through a powerful antibacterial combination of active oxygen derived from honey and zinc. The enzyme hyaluronan has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, whilst the Xylitol prevents bacteria from attaching to your tooth enamel and stimulating the salivary glands.
With JuliBrite toothpaste and JuliBrite mouthwash, you remove plaque and take optimal care of your gums.
Another good alternative is RyttPro Toothpaste Magic Mint. This toothpaste also removes plaque and fights harmful bacteria. The powerful formula OZ-3X, which consists of a combination of stabilised chlorine dioxide, zinc and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), only kills harmful bacteria while respecting the rest of the oral flora. Rinse with the matching mouthwash RyttPro Oral Rinse.
3. White deposits on your tongue
The anaerobic bacteria that form plaque aren’t limited to your teeth. They also find shelter in the rough tissue of the tongue. Research shows brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue removes much more bacteria than just brushing and flossing your teeth. So, it’s undoubtedly worthwhile cleaning your tongue to help prevent inflamed gums.
But never clean your tongue with your toothbrush. The bristles of your toothbrush are too stiff for the soft tissue of the tongue, and the head of your toothbrush is too high to clean the back of your tongue correctly.
Instead, use a tongue scraper or a special tongue brush. Even better, use a combination of the two.
In the RyttPro Clean Tongue Kit, you’ll find an effective Tongue Cleaner, which is a scraper and tongue brush in one. Brush your tongue with the brush side and then scrape the deposits off your tongue from the back to the front with the scraper side.
The kit also contains RyttPro Gum & Tongue Foam, an effective but mouth-friendly product for intensive cleaning. It’s based on the aforementioned powerful combination of stabilised chlorine dioxide, CPC and zinc acetate.
Another similar product is the JuliBrite Tongue Clean Kit. This also includes a practical, double-sided tongue cleaner and JuliBrite Tongue Gel. The products fight harmful bacteria between your tongue papillae using effective zinc lactate, all without disrupting the balance of the oral flora.
4. Dry mouth
A shortage of saliva always benefits the harmful anaerobic oral bacteria, making it a factor that increases the risk of inflamed gums. Dry mouth complaints (xerostomia) can have very different causes, varying from side effects of medication and medical treatments, conditions and stress to using oral care products containing drying ingredients. The cause can be removed in the latter case, but unfortunately, it isn’t always the case.
If you suffer from a dry mouth, choosing mouth-friendly toothpaste and mouthwash is even more critical. In addition, Moist-R Refreshing Tongue Spray with xylitol helps to stimulate the salivary glands and hydrate the mucous membranes. Moist-R Hydrating Chewing Gum or Moist-R Xylitol Tablets for Dry Mouth also contribute to a healthier, hydrated oral cavity.
The risk of inflamed gums increases with some conditions. This can be temporary, such as flu and a cold, but also chronic, such as Sjögren’s syndrome and diabetes.
If your oral hygiene is good, inflamed gums can indicate resistance problems. That’s why if, despite proper oral care, you still can’t get rid of your gum infections, we recommend consulting your doctor.
Due to hormonal fluctuations, a pregnant woman is extra sensitive to inflamed gums. At the same time, gum infections can pose health risks for the mother and unborn child. For example, the body can initiate an inflammatory response that leads to inappropriate contractions. Bacteria can also reach the placenta and foetus through the mouth. Gingivitis during pregnancy is a specific form of inflamed gums that deserves full attention. Read more about it here.
Malnutrition, usually not a matter of too little but of poor quality nutrition, also causes reduced resistance. We all know vitamin C is crucial in keeping the gums healthy. So, in addition to good oral hygiene, a healthy diet is essential to keep the gums strong.
8. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
Smokers are many times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Toxic and hot fumes dry out the mouth and irritate the soft tissues in the mouth, including the gums. The inhaled toxins significantly disrupt the oral flora and hinder the recovery of the gums.
Alcohol is also a toxic substance that poisons the oral flora and causes the natural defences in the mouth to be broken down. Alcohol also dries out the mouth, which always plays into the hands of oral bacteria.
9. Brushing too hard
This won’t happen as quickly with an electric toothbrush, but you can damage and irritate your gums with a hard manual toothbrush. If you brush really hard, it can even start to bleed. In addition, if the toothbrush bristles are too stiff and you tend to push too hard when brushing your teeth, you can damage your tooth enamel. This is why it’s better to use a soft toothbrush.
10. Sharp edges
Sharp edges from broken molars or crowns and broken fillings can damage and irritate the gums. If the natural defences are not optimal, bacteria can accumulate in the wounds and cause gum disease.
Therefore, you should have broken teeth repaired immediately by the dentist. The same applies to the sharp edges of braces or dentures. These appliances are not intended to damage your gums, so have them adjusted as soon as possible.
Good daily oral hygiene is essential to prevent inflamed gums. However, sometimes you must do a little more, and you can treat early gingivitis or irritation yourself. Choose the right products with effective but mouth-friendly ingredients. However, if you can’t control the inflammation, don’t wait too long to visit your dentist.
In addition, regular check-ups and dental cleanings by the dentist and/or dental hygienist remain necessary… no matter how well you care for your teeth.
Oral Health Foundation: Gum disease
British Dental Journal: Time to take gum disease seriously