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Updated on May 19, 2023
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Gingivitis Treatment: Professional Options & Home Remedies

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What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common, mild, and early form of gum (periodontal) disease. It causes inflammation of the gum tissue (gingiva).

Mild symptoms of gingivitis may be unnoticeable until the condition progresses. But people with gingivitis may have gums that:

  • Appear inflamed
  • Swell
  • Look red, dusky-red, or reddish-purple
  • Bleed easily, especially during or after brushing or flossing
  • Feel very sensitive
  • Make chewing painful
  • Are shiny
teeth with plaque and red gums from gingivitis

Gingivitis can also cause mouth sores and bad breath that doesn’t improve after brushing the teeth.

What Causes Gingivitis?

The body’s response to dental plaque and tartar buildup normally causes gingivitis and periodontal disease. Dental plaque formation occurs when harmful bacteria, saliva, mucus, bits of food, and dead cells form a sticky film.

Other factors that can cause gingivitis include:

  • Viral, fungal, and bacterial infections
  • Impacted or infected teeth
  • Allergic responses
  • Genetic disorders
  • Conditions that impact the mucus membranes
  • Injury
  • Foreign materials or dental restoration devices, such as dentures and dental pastes

How is Gingivitis Treated? 

You can often treat minor gum inflammation and gingivitis with good oral hygiene. But many people benefit from professional treatments.

These professional treatments can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Treat and control severe gingivitis
  • Improve gum health

Professional treatment options for gingivitis include:

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling removes tartar buildup and plaque from the teeth and below the gum line. Dental professionals use hand, laser, or ultrasonic devices during scaling to ensure they can clean teeth thoroughly.

After scaling, they may also perform root planing. Root planing involves smoothening the tooth’s root surfaces to prevent bacteria from sticking and to help the gums stick back to the teeth.

Scaling and root planing may require a local anesthetic. It could also take more than a few dental visits to complete.

dentist and assistant during a dental treatment on a patient

Regular Dental Checkups

Make sure to schedule regular checkups and cleanings every 6 to 12 months. People with risk factors for gingivitis, or a history of it, should get cleanings and checkups every 2 weeks to 3 months.

Regular dental checkups will ensure your teeth and gums remain in their best condition. Your dentist or dental hygienist can also catch and treat gingivitis before it worsens.

Fixing Teeth or Poorly Fitted Dental Devices

A dentist or periodontist can fix braces and dentures that don’t fit properly. They can also fix teeth that are misshapen or crooked, which can cause them to harbor bacteria.

When your dental devices fit better, it becomes more manageable to maintain good oral hygiene. Having a solid oral hygiene routine can make gingivitis treatment easier or prevent the need for it altogether.

dentist shaping dentures

Home Remedies to Prevent and Treat Gingivitis

At-home remedies can often help treat minor gingivitis and prevent gum disease.

Some of the best at-home remedies and prevention tips that could get rid of gingivitis include:

Practice Good Dental Hygiene

Good dental hygiene, like tooth brushing and flossing the teeth twice a day, helps treat and prevent gingivitis. Brushing the teeth properly removes plaque and other substances that can form plaque. 


To prevent or control gingivitis, brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. Brush for 2-minute intervals at least twice a day.

Most dentists recommend using an electric or regular toothbrush with a small head. Replace toothbrushes or toothbrush heads every 1 to 3 months.


Flossing between and around the teeth helps remove plaque. Floss one to two times daily with specialized interdental brushes, dental picks, or electronic devices like a Waterpik.

Quit Smoking or Using Tobacco Products

Smoking tobacco weakens the immune system, which fights off infections from plaque and bacteria. People who chew tobacco are also more likely to develop gingivitis.

Using or smoking tobacco also increases the depth and number of air pockets between the teeth and gums. Harmful compounds in tobacco can reduce blood flow to the gums, cause changes in gum tissues, and worsen gum recession.

hand holding cigarette

Reduce or Manage Risk Factors

You can help reduce your risk of developing gingivitis by:

1. Maintaining a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin C or niacin, can lead to gingivitis. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits can help treat or reduce the risk of gingivitis.

You should also try to limit your intake of sugar and alcohol to reduce the risk of gingivitis. 

2. Managing Stress

Stress can weaken the immune system and increase your risk of gingivitis. Good stress reduction techniques include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Tai Chi

3. Addressing Dry Mouth

OTC products such as mouth rinses and special toothpaste can help treat dry mouth. Some prescription medications can also cause dry mouth.

If a medication causes dry mouth that doesn’t improve with OTC remedies, talk to a doctor about switching products.

Medications associated with dry mouth include those for:

  • Seizures
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Birth control
  • Organ transplants
  • Infections or allergic responses
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Pain

4. Treating Certain Infections

A viral, fungal, or bacterial infection can cause gingivitis. Treatments include antibiotic, anti-viral, and antifungal medications.

5. Managing Chronic Conditions

Properly treating and managing conditions that impact the body’s immune system or cause dry mouth can help treat and prevent gingivitis.

Conditions that raise the risk of gingivitis include:

  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Crohn's disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease

6. Using Mouth Rinses

Using an over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial mouthwash, antiseptic mouthwash, or anti-plaque mouth rinse can reduce plaque and get rid of bacteria between the teeth.

Saltwater mouth rinses can also help. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and swish the saltwater in your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat at least three times a day.

top view of dental floss picks dental floss and mouthwash

Some DIY mouth rinses with antibacterial or soothing ingredients may also be effective for gingivitis, such as rinses made of:

  • 2 to 3 drops of lemongrass essential oil diluted in water
  • 2 to 3 drops of 100% tea tree oil in half a glass of water
  • 0.5 grams (g) of sage extract in 100 ml of distilled water
  • 2 ml of calendula tincture in 6 ml of water
  • 0.5 g of green tea extract in 100 ml of distilled water
  • 10 mg of curcumin extract in 100 ml of distilled water (further dilute to a 1:1 ratio with water before rinsing)
  • Chamomile extract

7. Oil Pulling 

Oil pulling is an ancient remedy that may draw out bacteria and toxins in the mouth. 

To perform oil pulling, swish 1 tablespoon of oil in the mouth for around 20 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the mouth with warm water and brush afterward.

You can use:

  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Sesame oil
jar and bowl of coconut oil

Learn more about the effectiveness of oil pulling. This method should be used as an adjunct to good oral hygiene, but cannot cure gingivitis on its own.

When Should You See a Dentist for Gingivitis?

It's better to treat gingivitis as soon as possible. If you notice you have loose teeth and bleeding and swollen gums, see your dentist immediately.

Other symptoms to look out for include sore gums and bad breath that doesn't go away after brushing your teeth.

Is Gingivitis Curable?

The sooner gingivitis is treated, the better the outlook. Untreated gingivitis can lead to a more severe form of gum disease, which can result in a domino effect of oral health issues.

Unlike periodontitis, gingivitis is reversible but can come back. The best way to treat and prevent gingivitis is to practice good oral hygiene and get regular professional teeth cleanings.

How is Gingivitis Diagnosed?

To diagnose someone with gingivitis, a dentist will:

  • Ask questions about symptoms, medical history, risk factors for gingivitis, and family history of gum disease
  • Examine the teeth and gums for signs of bleeding, inflammation, loose teeth, or receding gums
  • Use a probe to measure pockets around the teeth (in healthy gums, these pockets aren’t more than 1 to 3 millimeters)
  • Take X-rays to assess bone loss or damage 

Your dentist may recommend a medical evaluation to check for underlying health conditions. Your dentist may refer you to a gum disease specialist (periodontist) if you have advanced gum disease.

Can Gingivitis Lead to Severe Gum Disease?

Without proper treatment, gingivitis can develop into a more severe gum disease called periodontitis. This condition causes the gum tissue to pull away (recede) from the teeth.

Periodontitis damages the bones that support teeth and can ultimately cause tooth loss.

Inflammation from chronic gingivitis may also cause:

  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory disease
  • Stroke
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also called trench mouth
  • Cancer


Gingivitis is a minor form of gum disease. Plaque buildup on the teeth and gums causes most cases of gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, sensitive, bleeding gums.

In most cases, treating gingivitis involves maintaining good oral hygiene, using at-home remedies, professional treatments like deep cleanings, and regular dental visits. These methods are also effective in preventing gingivitis.

Talk to a dentist if gums are red, swollen, sensitive, or bleed easily.

Last updated on May 19, 2023
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 19, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  4. Coker et al. “Can salt weather heal a gum infection?” North Houston Periodontics & dental implants, 2021.
  5. Dany et al. “Efficacy of 0.25% Lemongrass Oil Mouthwash: A Three Arm Prospective Parallel Clinical Study.” Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, 2015.
  6. Goes et al. “Clinical efficacy of a 1% Matricaria chamomile L. mouthwash and 0.12% chlorhexidine for gingivitis control in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances.” Journal of oral science, 2016.
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