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What Causes Tender Gums?

Tender gums, officially known as gingivitis, is the inflammation and infection of the gums. Gingivitis is a very common dental disease. About 48 percent of adults in the U.S. have some form of gum disease.

The major symptom of gingivitis is the inflammation and tenderness of the gums. Gingivitis is caused by a buildup of plaque. The bacteria in it produce toxins that irritate the gums, leading to inflammation. If the inflamed gums become ruptured, bleeding can occur. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can culminate into periodontitis.

Things that leave you vulnerable to tender gums

  1. Smoking or tobacco use — Smoking or chewing tobacco products increase a person's odds of having gingivitis. If smoking is not stopped after the development of gingivitis, it lowers the chances of a successful treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokers are seven times more likely to suffer from gingivitis, compared to people who do not smoke.
  2. Poor oral hygiene — Poor oral hygiene can also lead to gingivitis. People who do not brush or floss daily are more susceptible to it since it leaves their gums exposed to plaque for increased periods.
  3. Not fully removing plaque — When plaque forms on teeth, it should be removed by brushing and flossing. It will eventually turn into tartar which is even worse for the gums.
  4. Poor nutrition — Good nutrition strengthens the immune system of the body which reduces susceptibility to illnesses. A person who does not eat a balanced diet is more likely to develop gingivitis.
  5. Kissing or sharing drinks with a person who has gingivitis — Kissing or sharing drinks with a person who has gingivitis can increase a person's risk of having the disease.

How is gingivitis diagnosed?

A dentist can diagnose gingivitis by performing a dental examination. During the exam, the dentist would check for obvious symptoms of gingivitis which includes bleeding gums, swelling, tenderness, loose teeth and tooth pain. Treatment of gingivitis is easier at the early stages and more difficult at the later stages.


The first step in the treatment of gingivitis is the administration of a professional dental cleaning also known as scaling and root planning. This involves the removal of plaque, tartar and bacteria buildup under the gums. Gingivitis usually clears up after a thorough professional dental cleaning as long as the patient practices good oral hygiene.

Dental restoration may be required if substantial damage has been done to the teeth before the intervention of a dentist.

How to prevent gingivitis

There are certain steps that can be taken to prevent gingivitis from developing. 

  1. Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste — Anti-gingivitis toothpaste efficiently removes plaque from the teeth and gum line. Anti-gingivitis toothpaste is clinically proven to help a person maintain healthy gums.
  2. Brush the teeth for at least two minutes, twice daily — Brushing the teeth for at least two minutes, twice daily can also help prevent the development of gingivitis.
  3. Floss at least once a day — Using dental floss at least once a day helps to remove gingivitis-causing plaque.
  4. Replace your toothbrush at least once in three months — It is good to regularly replace your toothbrush. A worn-out toothbrush removes less plaque.

Let's get started

Dealing with tender gums? Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today.

Go to for more information about treating tender gums or call Dragonfly Dental of Port Charlotte at (941) 893-4240.

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