Causes of inflammation of the gums


Inflammation of the gums (Gingivitis) besides tooth decay, is the most common disease within the oral cavity. The number one cause of gum inflammation is poor oral hygiene. In addition, there are other causes that are favored by some risk factors. These include, for example, hormonal and genetic factors, as well as systemic diseases and smoking. Furthermore, the psychological component also plays a major role, because everyday stress is also an aspect of gingivitis, even if the exact connection is not yet clear to researchers. The complexity of the causes makes fighting this widespread disease more and more difficult, as several risk factors are usually responsible for its extent. The connection between inflammation of the gums and periodontitis, in particular, can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream and cause cardiovascular diseases such as inflammation of the lining of the heart (Endocarditis) or even a heart attack (Myocardial infarction) trigger. It is therefore important to be sensitized to these topics in order to take preventive measures for a healthy oral flora.


  • Mechanical injuries
  • Bacterial deposits
  • Thermal damage
  • Mushrooms
  • Viruses
  • Chemical substances
  • Genetic factors
  • Mouth breathing
  • low salivation

The following causes increase the risk of inflammation in general and are therefore also associated with an increased risk of gum inflammation:

  • Systemic diseases such as Diabetes mellitus
  • Smoke
  • pregnancy
  • Drugs such as Immunosuppressants
  • stress

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease (medically correct name: Periodontal disease) describes an inflammation of the teeth that affects the entire periodontium. Becomes a simple inflammation of the gums (Gingivitis) ignored and not treated, the bacteria spread to larger parts of the oral cavity and periodontitis develops. Due to the inflammation, the tooth bed can no longer anchor the teeth firmly, the bone is loosened and the teeth begin to wobble. In the worst case, teeth can fall out without therapy. Because bacteria play a role, periodontal disease is a communicable disease and can be passed on through kissing, for example. Researchers have also found that the bacteria enter the circulation via the bloodstream and can thus trigger cardiovascular diseases. Prophylaxis and prevention are therefore essential in order not to risk any systemic and possibly life-threatening consequences for humans.

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Tartar is plaque that is mineralized and traps bacteria. It occurs when deposits in the form of food residues remain on the tooth surfaces and are solidified by the minerals in the saliva. Therefore, tartar occurs primarily near the ducts of the salivary glands, which are located on the lower front teeth and the outside of the upper molars. If the tartar is in the gum pockets under the gums, it is called Concrement designated. Increased tartar infestation of the teeth promotes gum inflammation due to the accumulation of bacteria, which increasingly comes to bear around the tartar infested teeth. Furthermore, concretions under the gums have the potential to trigger periodontitis and degrade the bone, so that tooth loosening or even tooth loss is possible. Some people already have a genetic tendency to tartar due to their saliva composition and mineral content. Especially for these patients, but also for everyone else, it is important to have the tartar professionally removed by the dentist on a regular basis.

Dental plaque

Dental plaque is food residue that adheres to the surface of the tooth after eating. Dental plaque can initially be rinsed off with water, for example. However, if they stick to the tooth surface for a longer period of time, they can no longer be rinsed off and can only be removed by mechanical friction. The minerals in the saliva solidify them and tartar builds up. This creates a vicious circle: A lack of oral hygiene develops plaque, the manifestation of tartar and this promotes long-term deposits of food residues. This underlines the relevance of thorough dental care, especially after meals. Ultimately, if the deposits remain, the risk of inflammation in the oral cavity increases. As these can lead to systemic problems as a possible complication, thorough oral hygiene should be taken seriously.

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Plaque is a synonym for dental plaque.

Additional information can be found here: Dental plaque

Poor oral hygiene

The main cause of inflammatory diseases within the oral cavity is poor oral hygiene. These include uncomplicated inflammation of the gums, but also the result of inflammation of the gums without treatment: inflammation of the gums (Periodontal disease). The poor oral hygiene leads to an imbalance in the oral cavity: the larger number of food particles that remain in the oral cavity means that the bacteria have more substrate to multiply. The inflammation of the gums is primarily caused by bacterial deposits that infect the gums and cause discomfort if they persist for a long time. The pH value in the oral cavity changes from a neutral to an acidic range, since acids are formed when the food remains broken down by the bacteria. These acids damage the gums and the body tries to fight the pests. The result is gingivitis due to the increased emission of inflammatory mediators from the body. The gums swell, redden, appear heated and painful. There is often bleeding when brushing teeth due to mechanical irritation. Without treatment, the swellings can create so-called pseudo-pockets, in which the bacteria nest and lead to mucous membrane growths. Therapeutically, the gums can be cleaned with professional teeth cleaning so that the plaque and thus the bacteria are removed. Symptoms are quickly relieved after the procedure.


Stress is a risk factor that can lead to gingivitis. Stress favors the defense reaction of our body against external influences. In this case, the stress promotes the immune response against the pathogens and the body sends out more inflammatory mediators that cause gingivitis. The stress hormone is primarily used for this Cortisol responsible for what promotes the messenger substances and thus the spread of the symptoms of inflammation. In spite of this, researchers still do not know the exact relationships and how the exact functional mechanism is. In general, it can be said that stress and psychological problems influence the severity of the gingivitis and can turn a simple, uncomplicated gingivitis into a serious gingivitis.

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Mouth breathing

Mouth breathing is a common problem with snoreers who are unable to breathe through the nose due to constricted nasal passages, polyps, or other causes. The constant supply of air through the mouth dries the oral mucosa and the gums, which promotes inflammation and bad breath. As a result of the drying out, the saliva no longer buffers the pH value and the pH becomes acidic. The acidic environment leads to damage to the teeth and gums and the body reacts in the form of an immune response with inflammation of the gums. Persistent mouth breathing means that the symptoms persist.

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Smoking is a risk factor that increases the risk of inflammation in the oral cavity. Nicotine and carbon monoxide cause the vessels to contract and the blood flow to decrease. The lack of blood circulation makes it difficult for defense cells to be transported through the bloodstream, which is why the immune response is slowed down and weakened. The body's immune system cannot counteract pathogens in the oral cavity as efficiently. This leads to faster and easier inflammation. The extent of the inflammation can also be exacerbated by the reduced immune response. As a result, smoking promotes the development of gingivitis into gingivitis. According to studies, this factor is increased 6 times compared to a non-smoker.Smokers suffer from inflammation in the oral cavity more often and earlier, and this is more pronounced.

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Low salivation

A low flow of saliva, e.g. is found in the elderly or in patients after irradiation in the head and neck area, is also a risk factor that promotes gingivitis. In the case of older people, there is often also the fact that too little is drunk. There is a lack of saliva to maintain the pH value and teeth and gums are exposed to acid stress, which results in inflammation. There are special gels that are supposed to stimulate the flow of saliva. However, these are only temporary help and are not a permanent solution. The affected patient should drink plenty of water to keep the mouth moist and to prevent bacteria from sticking to one area for too long. Daily rinsing with mouthwash solutions can also improve the bacterial environment.

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