What is gum disease?

Gum disease involves the gums, bone and other areas of support for teeth.

Gum disease may affect any age group, but is more likely to occur in adults.

Most people have times in their lives when they do not brush as effectively as usual. The plaque that may accumulate during these times may lead to infection and inflammation — signs of gum disease.

The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. For many people, gingivitis is the most severe consequence of plaque build—up they will experience.

However, some people may develop a more destructive form of gum disease known as periodontitis. With this form of disease, irreversible damage may occur to your gums and other areas of support for your teeth.

It is important that our dentist assesses whether gingivitis and/or periodontitis are present in your mouth, and to treat either disease if they ere present.

 

What is the role of plaque?

Plaque:

Accumulation may also occur in areas between the teeth that are difficult to clean. Plaque accumulation causes inflammation of the gums, which in turn may become red, swollen and prone to bleeding.


The first signs of inflammation appear for many people when the gums bleed. This may be noticed during tooth brushing or when eating certain foods such as apple.

People may become worried when they see this area of bleeding, and brush that region less.

Plaque that remains on and between teeth may eventually thicken, harden and calcify to become calculus (or tartar, as it is often called).

Calculus will trap plaque and, if not removed, may result in further redness, bleeding and gum tenderness.


Often, along with gum bleeding and redness, you will have bad breath and a bitter taste in your mouth upon waking in the morning. Your gums may also feel "spongy" or "soft".


What will happen if I take no notice of my bleeding gums?

If you, along with your dentist, do not work at controlling the build—up of plaque and calculus in your mouth, you run the risk of developing periodontitis.

Unlike gingivitis, which can heal leaving no permanent damage, periodontitis may permanently affect the gums and teeth—supporting bone.

The damage due to periodontitis occurs episodically, that is, there are periods of time when the condition is actively destructive and other times when the disease is stable.

The aim of periodontal treatment is to maximise the periods of stability so that no further destruction of supporting tissues (for example, Ion) occurs. The treatment involves removing plaque and calculus trapped in pockets under the gum and around the teeth.

 

If I have signs of periodontitis, what should I do?