Gum disease describes inflammation or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Type 1 Healthy teeth and gums
Type 2 Gingivitis
Type 3 Early Periodontitis
Type 4 Moderate Periodontitis
Type 5 Advanced Periodontitis
Q. What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen, showing that the area is inflamed. It is caused by bacterial plaque around the teeth. Often this swollen gum bleeds during tooth brushing.
Q. What is periodontal disease?
Long-standing gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease. As the disease progresses, bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost. You may not detect this yourself, or you may notice gum recession or loosening of the teeth.
Q. Am I Likely to suffer from gum disease?
Probably! Most of the population suffers from some form of gum disease, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Some people, for example those of Asian inheritance, have a genetic predisposition to periodontitis and are therefore more susceptible and require even more meticulous care and attention. However, the disease progresses very slowly in most people and, with regular care and monitoring
by your hygienist, progress can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
Q What happens if gum disease is not treated?
Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole and therefore you may not be aware of it until it is too late! However you may notice bleeding gums and you may occasionally experience a burst of activity by the bacteria, which makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses, and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth will be lost and the teeth become loose. If the disease is left untreated for a long period of time, treatment can become more difficult and you may lose your teeth.
Q. How do I know if I have gum disease?
The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Gums may also bleed when eating, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant- particularly for your friends!
Gum disease can also manifest itself by gum recession and tooth mobility.
Q. What do I do if I think I have gum disease?
The first thing to do is visit your dentist for a thorough check-up of your teeth and
gums. The dentist can measure the ‘cuff’ of gum around each tooth to see if there is any evidence that periodontal disease has started. Radiographs (X-rays) will also be needed to see the amount of bone that has been lost. This assessment is very important to enable the correct treatment to be prescribed for you.
Q. What treatments are needed?
Your teeth will be given a thorough cleaning. You will also be shown how to remove plaque thoroughly and effectively from all surfaces of your teeth. This may take a number of sessions with the hygienist and very often will require the use of local anaesthetic to ensure your comfort.
Q. Once I have had periodontal disease can I get it again?
Yes! Periodontal disease can be stabilised and as long as you keep up the home care you have been taught, any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether. However, you must make sure you remove plaque effectively everyday, and return for regular check ups and maintenance with the dentist and the hygienist.
Find out more about hygiene treatment