Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Its symptoms include red, inflamed and sometimes bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis.

Careless Routine

Plaque accumulating on the teeth and along the gum line causes gingivitis and is common among children and adults. An inconsistent or lax oral care routine is usually the culprit.

If you brush twice a day, floss between your teeth once a day, and rinse twice a day with an effective antiseptic mouthwash, you’ll head off the majority of gingivitis causes. In fact, the Canadian Dental Association validates that adding LISTERINE® to your routine prevents gingivitis better than brushing and flossing alone.

From Plaque to Tartar

The sticky film of bacteria on your teeth can become plaque. Removing it on a daily basis will help fend off gum irritation and avoid uncomfortable swelling, inflammation and bleeding gums.

Tartar is crusty and porous — the hardened form of plaque that was not removed. Spreading above or below gum lines, it appears yellow or brownish and can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.

You can prevent tartar buildup, the most sneaky of the gingivitis causes, by brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and rinsing twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash such as LISTERINE ULTRACLEAN® Gum Protection.

Other Gingivitis Causes

Gingivitis causes can be related to other issues in the mouth. Crooked teeth are conducive to plaque buildup because they’re harder to clean. And of course, family genetics can also play a role in raising your risk.

Getting Older

As you age, gingivitis causes can become more common. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash such as LISTERINE® can help increase your chances of keeping your mouth healthy. If you or a loved one struggle with your oral care routines, an electric toothbrush or interdental flossers may help. If you wear dentures, clean them according to your dentist’s directions, ensuring you remove food deposits and plaque daily with a brush. Your dentist may also recommend a soaking solution.

Health Indicators

If you are pregnant, or going through your monthly menstrual cycle, periods of fluctuating hormone levels can increase your susceptibility to gum disease. Certain illnesses and your genetic history may also affect your chances of developing signs of gingivitis.


Smoking can alter the normal function of your gum tissue cells, increasing your mouth’s vulnerability to infection — and likewise increasing your susceptibility to gingivitis. So try to avoid cigarette, cigar, chewing tobacco or pipe usage.