What is gum disease?

Gum disease is when the tissues supporting your teeth become infected, swollen or sore.

It is caused by dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth, and is likely to affect most of us at some point in our lives to some degree. Although gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, if it is managed properly, sufferers can still keep most of their teeth for life.

There are two types of gum disease – gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and can be recognised by inflamed gums and bleeding when brushing or flossing teeth. At this stage, gum disease is reversible. It can be treated by an effective brushing routine combined with thorough cleaning between the teeth to remove all the plaque. Regular visits to the dentist are important to check that your gums around every tooth remain healthy.

Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease. At this stage the supporting tissues around your teeth become irreversibly damaged, causing pockets to form below the gum line. If periodontitis progresses, the bone holding the teeth in the jaw is gradually lost, leading to teeth becoming loose and eventually falling out. However, it can be treated to slow down or even stop the bone loss.

If you notice any of the following signs of gum disease, you should arrange an appointment to speak to your dental team about them:

  • Red, inflamed or puffy gums
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Gums that appear to have pulled away from the necks of your teeth
  • Pus between your teeth and gums

Visiting your dental team regularly means that any signs of gum disease can be spotted at an early stage, and treated straight away before further problems develop – so book your next appointment today!

Published: August 5th, 2013

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Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults