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Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease caused when plaque and tartar irritate and infect the gingiva (the part of the gums that surrounds the base of the teeth). This can make your gums red and causes them to swell or bleed. If gingivitis isn’t reversed, it can advance to more serious stages of periodontal disease. Here are some of the risk factors of gingivitis:

  • Poor oral hygiene is the most common one since plaque buildup is what causes gingivitis.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco impedes blood flow to the gums and makes them more susceptible to infection.
  • Conditions that weaken the immune system (diabetes, HIV/AIDS, leukemia, etc.) make it more difficult for your gums to fight infection.
  • Hormonal changes such as puberty, menopause, or pregnancy can also cause gingivitis.
  • Some medications (steroids, cancer therapy drugs, and certain anti-epilepsy drugs and oral contraceptives) can increase the risk of developing gingivitis.
  • A poor diet puts more sugar in your mouth (which feeds plaque) and affects the overall health of your body and its ability to fight infection.
  • Stress has also been linked to gingivitis since it can weaken the immune system.
  • Old age, dry mouth, some viral and fungal infections, genetics, crooked teeth, and poorly-fitted dental restorations are also risk factors.

Several of these factors are easily fixed. For those that can’t be, consult your dentist. Regular check-ups with your dentist and daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent gingivitis from developing.