How Long Does Gingivitis Last? - The Truth

Gingivitis will last until you finally decide to get treatment for it because it will not go away on its own. It is a non-self curing disease so you must seek professional treatment for it.


After you finally give it the attention that it deserves, depending on what caused it the treatment will differ. If it was more severe, it would take longer for gingivitis to reverse. The vice versa is also true where if the cause was less severe, it will heal faster.


This article will go over all of the possible causes of gingivitis and how long it would take for it to go away after receiving treatment. Of course the time frame is just an estimate because everyone recovers at different paces due to their specific overall health status.



How long does it take gingivitis to go away:



How long does gingivitis last without treatment?

Gingivitis will last forever if you do not get any treatment for it. In other words it will not go away by itself. In fact, if you leave it untreated it will actually progress to the next stage of gum disease called periodontitis.


Here are some signs that may have gingivitis:

  • Inflamed gums that look red and poofy

  • Bleeds easily from brushing and flossing

  • Bad breath or foul odor

  • Bad taste in your mouth

  • Presence of plaque or calculus


What we are trying to say is that you should not delay seeking professional help if you want your gum disease to heal. The longer that you let it fester, the worse it will get because treatment only gets more complicated and more expensive.


You also shouldn't try random home remedies in order to treat this condition because gingivitis can be caused by a variety of factors. If you don't know the specific cause then you won't know the right remedy for it. This is why it is important to go in for your dental check up so that you can have a diagnosis.




How long it lasts caused by plaque

Plaque is one of the most common causes of gingivitis and the treatment for it is a dental cleaning. After getting your teeth cleaning, it should go away within a week or so.


It takes at least a week because during the cleaning appointment, your dentist will remove the plaque with an ultrasonic scalers and hand scalers. These are sharp stainless steel instruments used to clean around your gums. The end result is usually sore and tender gums after the cleaning.


plaque covering wisdom tooth
plaque covering wisdom tooth

Your gums and teeth may hurt for the next few days and that takes time to recover. Since the plaque is relatively soft, it shouldn't be too difficult for your dentist to remove it. It also means that it wouldn't take an extended period of time for your gums to heal. The approximate time would be around a week for the teeth and gums to go back to normal.



How to tell if your gum disease is healing

With each passing day you should notice the gums become less red and return to more of a light pink color. The bleeding will also slowly start subsiding. The bad breath and taste in your mouth will also start to go away.




How long it lasts caused by tartar (calculus)

Untreated plaque will eventually harden into a calcified substance called tartar. The best way to remove tartar is by getting a deep cleaning since it is harder and much more difficult to remove than plaque. After the deep teeth cleaning procedure, it may take 1-2 weeks for the gingivitis to go away from the tartar damage.


The increased healing time from tartar all has to do with the increased difficult for removal when compared to the soft plaque. Your dentist will need to apply a lot more force with the scalers in order to get it off your teeth.


Severe lingual tartar
Severe lingual tartar

Since more force is applied your teeth and gums will be more sore and tender afterwards. The increased after effects are the direct cause of the increase in healing time. An analogy would be if you got a light bruise vs a heavy bruise. The heavier one would of course take longer to heal and gingivitis is no exception when it is caused by heavier tartar.




How long it lasts caused by stuck food

It is not uncommon to be in the middle of meal and have some of the food become lodged into your gums. If you can't get it out, you'll notice the gums start to become inflamed and swell up a day or two afterwards. Fortunately this form of gingivitis can easily be resolved as soon as you get that stuck piece of food out of your gums.


After getting the food out it may take a few days or even up to a week for the gums to fully heal and go back to normal. Since this condition only affects a localized area within the mouth, the healing time is typically fairly short. Although we say that it could last up to a week, you'll most likely see resolution within a few days after getting the food out.



How to get out food that is stuck in your gums

You can try your best to brush and floss the area to see if it comes out. You may have to give it a couple of tries. What also helps is if you have a water flosser that can shoot pressurized water into the gums. Sometimes the high pressure water can flush out the lodged food particle.


If you can't get it out after trying for an entire day, you should just make an appointment with your dentist. They can usually pluck it out with some college pliers or scale it out with their hand instruments. Its a lot easier for someone else to do it for you because they have better visualization and also easier access into your gums.




How long it lasts caused by pregnancy

Unbeknownst to most, there is a special type of gingivitis that is induced by pregnancy. To be more exact, it is the elevated level of pregnancy hormones that cause the body to overreact to plaque in your mouth. We call this pregnancy induced gingivitis.


The treatment for this is a dental cleaning and that is usually sufficient in getting rid of it. You can expect the symptoms to last about a week or two before it goes away after the treatment. If you stay on top of your oral hygiene it will help speed up the recovery as well.


The good news about this form of gingivitis is that it doesn't require additional specialty treatment. You treat it as if it was regular gum disease.


Although we do have to point out that the chances for this to recur is a lot higher because the hormone levels are elevated throughout the entire pregnancy. Fortunately for most people, it does return back to normal after giving birth.




How long it lasts caused by autoimmune diseases

There are many autoimmune disorders which have gingivitis as an oral manifestation. Since these diseases often don't have a cure, the gingivitis will most likely stay forever. You may be able to manage the autoimmune disease and the gum disease by keeping the levels of it low throughout your life by undergoing treatment and taking medication.


This is something that you would need to keep up with for life since there is no cure. It also means that you will have occasional gum inflammation flare ups from time to time.


List of autoimmune diseases with oral manifestations:

  • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura

  • Pemphigus vulgaris

  • Bullous pemphigoid

  • Erythema multiforme

  • Lupus

  • Sjogren syndrome

  • Reiter's syndrome

  • Behcet's disease



How long it lasts caused by medications

There are certain medications which can induce gingival overgrowth. This means that the gums will enlarge much more than normal. In fact it'll look like it has swelled up significantly more than normal gingivitis and it can look quite scary.


gingival overgrowth from medication
Credit: Steve Bhimji MD

Medications which may cause this:

  • Anticonvulsants - phenytoin, sodium valproate, phenobarbitone, etc

  • Immunosuppressants - cyclosporins, sirolimus, tacrolimus, etc

  • Calcium channel blockers - nifedipine, felodipine, amlodipine, etc


Unfortunately this type of gingivitis may last for a very long time, sometimes even up to 6-12 months. That one year period is after discontinuing the medications or adjusting the dosage levels. After all it is the medications which are causing the condition.



How to get rid of the gum inflammation and overgrowth from medications

The first step is to adjust the dosage to see if it goes away. Completely discontinuing the medication is usually difficult because they are being taken to treat a certain health condition of yours. It just so happens that gum problems is a side effect of taking it.


The patient would also need to be very strict with their oral hygiene. This means keeping up with the brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing in order to keep the plaque level as low as possible. This will help to decrease some of the gum inflammation and swelling. Sometimes antibiotics and antifungals are also used as well.


If the condition persists even with all of the above methods, you will require surgical treatment.

  • Gingivectomy - remove the inflamed gums with a scalpel.

  • Periodontal flap surgery - completely open up the gums and clean it all out.

  • Electrocautery - cut off the swollen excess tissue with a laser.




Closing statement

To summarize, gingivitis will never heal if you do not get it treated. Although after seeking care, the treatment and healing time will differ depending on the cause because the treatment will vary due to it. You won't find out long low it takes to heal until after your dental appointment!


Nonetheless, even after you responsibly decide to get help it does not mean that gingivitis will be permanently cured. Gum disease can certainly return if you do not maintain good oral hygiene practices or keep up with your dental check ups.



Prevention

If you want to permanently prevent gingivitis you will need to follow these tips AFTER you complete treatment for whatever was causing it.

  • Brush for at least two minutes, once in the morning and once at night.

  • Floss your teeth prior to going to bed.

  • Use mouthwash whenever you can.

  • Go get your dental cleaning very 6 months.

  • Avoid sugary foods which can fuel bacterial activity.


Last but not least, don't forget to never delay care if you notice a problem with your gums. That is a legitimate reason for going back to your dentist even if you're not due for the six month check up. Better to be safe than sorry.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!