What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a common condition characterised by sore, swollen gums. There are two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis).

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the early phase of gum disease. It causes soreness, swelling and bleeding, especially after brushing the teeth.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the advanced form of gum disease. It occurs when gingivitis is not attended to and can cause permanent harm to the teeth, often causing them to fall out.

Am I likely to get gum disease?

Gum disease can affect anyone and most people notice the symptom of gingivitis at some stage. It is important to visit the dentist immediately if you experience symptoms, as it is much easier to treat in the early stages.

What are the causes?

It is caused by a severe build-up of plaque, a sticky substance made from food particles and bacteria that cling to the enamel surfaces. If it is not eradicated by regular brushing, it can cause decay and lead to gum disease.

What if gum disease is not treated?

If the condition is not treated, it gets worse and may even result in substantial tooth loss. The gums can become extremely sore and cause abscesses to develop. Abscesses develop in the pockets that form when the gums come away from the alveolar bone, which is the bone responsible for supporting the teeth and gums.

How will I know if I have gum disease?
  • The symptoms and signs to look out for include:
  • Bleeding (especially after brushing the teeth)
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Redness
  • Soreness in the gums.
  • Gum disease can also cause bad breath.
What should I do if I think I have gum disease?

If you think you may have gum disease, see your dentist. He/she will inspect your mouth and check for signs and symptoms. Your dentist may also take X-rays to check for bone loss.

What treatment is needed?

The first step is to give the teeth and gums an intensive clean to remove tartar and plaque from the mouth. This may involve a series of sessions with your dental hygienist or dentist. If you have advanced gum disease you may be told to visit a specialist periodontist for further tests and treatment.

You may be advised to return to your dental hygienist on a regular basis for cleaning treatments and your dentist will advise you on how to reduce the threat of gum disease.

Is it possible to get periodontal disease if I’ve already had it?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for periodontal disease. However, your dentist will provide guidance about preventing spells of gum disease and how to keep your gums and teeth clean. You will be advised to attend regular check-ups and hygiene sessions.

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