What is gum disease?


  • Gum disease is caused by bacteria in plaque, producing acids and toxins that can lead to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).  

  • Over time, this bacteria moves into the cuff of gum around your teeth, causing inflammation. This is why your gums often bleed when you haven't flossed in a while. 

  • If left untreated, gum disease can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing "pockets".  Bacteria can become trapped in these pockets which can progress to affect the bone surrouding the teeth (periodontitis).

  • If you ignore gum disease, the bone around the teeth can weaken leading to the teeth becoming loose, and eventually they fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.

Signs of gum disease
  • Gums that are red, puffy, swollen or tender

  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Changes in the way your teeth fit togther when you bite

  • Teeth that look longer due to receding gums

  • Tooth pain or sensitivity - gums that have pulled away from the teeth can make teeth sensitive to hot and cold food/drinks.

How to prevent gum disease
  • Good oral hygeine will help keep plaque from building up, and the early stages of gum disease can be treated with a good brushing/flossing technique.

  • If your gums bleed, don't stop brushing!  Use a soft toothbrush with a gentle amount of pressure.  

  • Visit your dental team regularly for check-ups and cleaning.  Tell you dentist/hygienist if you are pregnant, have diabetes, or smoke, as all these factors can impact on gum disease.

  • A profesional cleaning by your dentist/hygienist is the only way to remove plaque that has built-up and hardend into tartar.  A "scale" is needed to remove tartar above the gum line.  

  • If your gum disease is more serious a deeper clean may be required to clean underneath the gums and the tooth root surface.