Inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is often due to a build up of plaque around the base of the teeth. Toxins created by bacteria in the plaque irritate the gums, forcing them to become infected, swollen, tender and reddish-purple in colour. Gingivitis can also result from injury to the gums, often through rough tooth-brushing or flossing. Pregnant women and those with diabetes are particularly susceptible to the disorder.
Gingivitis can be reversed; proper oral hygiene is the primary method of preventing and treating it. When left untreated, however, it can lead to damage of the gum tissue, which can then in turn lead to chronic periodontitis (a later stage of gum disease). Acute ulcerative gingivitis can develop in those who have chronic gingivitis, especially those with a lower resistance to infection.