To evaluate the associations between gingivitis, emotional status and quality of life in children. Sixty-four Brazilian students (11 to 12 years old) were examined for clinical and self-reported gingivitis. The participants were divided into two groups: those with gingivitis (n = 21) and controls (n = 43). Quality of life, anxiety and depression were measured using self-administered questionnaires. Saliva was collected 30 min after waking and at bedtime to measure the diurnal decline in salivary cortisol. The results were analysed using bivariate and multivariate analyses. There were significantly more female participants in the control group. Approximately 90% of the children with gingivitis had good oral hygiene and 10.5% had satisfactory oral hygiene. There was a significant positive correlation between anxiety and depression in both clinical groups. Anxiety was negatively correlated with quality of life in the control group. Depression was negatively correlated with quality of life and cortisol concentrations in the group with gingivitis, and with quality of life in the control group. Children with gingivitis were more likely to be older and males. Older children are more likely to experience gingival bleeding. The presence of gingivitis in children may be associated with worse psychological well-being, possibly compromising the quality of life.