What you Need to Know about Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, starts with bacterial growth in your mouth and can lead to tooth loss due to the destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth if not properly treated. Periodontal disease, in its advanced stages, can cause sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, as well as tooth loss. According to the American Dental Association, gingivitis and periodontitis are the major causes of tooth loss in adults.

The Difference Between Periodontitis and Gingivitis

Periodontitis (gum disease) is commonly preceded by gingivitis (gum inflammation). Gingivitis does not always lead to periodontitis. Gingivitis affects the majority of people at some point in their life, and its mild symptoms make it easy to overlook. However, if left untreated, it can lead to more serious dental issues. In the early stages of gingivitis the bacteria in plaque build-up can cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily during teeth brushing. The teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets, even if the gums are irritated. At this time, no irreparable bone or tissue damage has occurred yet.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Your gums attach to your teeth at a lower level than the visible gum edges. A sulcus is formed as a result of this. Food and plaque can become trapped in this space, causing gingivitis or gum infection. Plaque is a bacterial coating that forms on the surface of the mouth. It constantly forms on the surface of your teeth. Plaque hardens into tartar as it progresses. Plaque that extends below the gum line might cause a gum infection. If not treated right away this can result in major tooth decay and even tooth loss. Other factors, however, can have a role in periodontal disease. These are some of them:

  • Hormonal changes like those that occur during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation make gums more sensitive, making gingivitis more likely to develop.
  • Illnesses may impact the health of your gums. This covers diseases that affect the immune system, such as cancer or HIV. Patients with diabetes are more likely to acquire infections since diabetes inhibits the body's ability to use blood sugar.
  • Medications can have an impact on oral health because some reduce saliva flow, which protects teeth and gums. Some medications, including the anticonvulsant Dilantin and the anti-angina medicines Procardia and Adalat, can promote aberrant gum tissue growth.
  • Smoking makes it more difficult for gum tissue to regenerate itself.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits including not brushing and flossing daily, make it a lot easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Family background of dental disease is also a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.


Despite periodontal disease symptoms being typically subtle, the condition does not entirely come without warning signs. Certain common symptoms may indicate the presence of the disease. Gum disease causes the following symptoms:

  • Gums that are red, tender, or swollen
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite (malocclusion)
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Partial dentures that no longer fit
  • Foul-smelling breath that doesn’t go away after you brush your teeth


Gum disease treatment aims to promote the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth, reduce swelling, pocket depth, and infection risk, and stop disease progression. The type of treatment you receive is determined by the stage of your condition, how you responded to previous therapies, and your overall health. Treatments vary from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.

How Can Gum Disease be Prevented?

When plaque control is practiced, gingivitis can be reversed and gum disease can be prevented in nearly all cases. Professional cleanings at least twice a year, as well as daily brushing and flossing, are required for proper plaque control.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is recommended. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles start to fray.

Food particles and plaque are removed from between the teeth and under the gum line by flossing. Flossing every day removes plaque from places that your toothbrush can't reach. Interdental cleaners, picks, and little brushes that fit between teeth are also options. If you’re not familiar with these options, ask your dentist how to use them so you don't damage your gums.

Rinse your mouth. Antibacterial mouthwash prevents bad breath and plaque while also preventing gingivitis. According to the American Dental Association, antibacterial rinses can help to reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease. Consult your dentist to determine which mouthwash is best for you.

If you suspect you have gum disease, you should see a dentist as soon as possible because it can still be reversed in its early stages. Contact a dentist if you have any symptoms of gum disease. Red gums, swollen, and easily bleeding are usually the first indicators. Heather Ridge Dentistry is at your service, call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.

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