Q What is gum disease?
A Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection
of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum
disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Q What is gingivitis?
A Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is
when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the
swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning.
Q What is periodontal disease?
A Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal
disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all
affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the
bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If
this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
Q Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?
A Probably. Most people suffer from some form of gum
disease, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, the
disease develops very slowly in most people, and it can be slowed down
to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
Q What is the cause of gum disease?
A All gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film
of bacteria, which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day.
Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are
some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To
prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the
plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing.
Q What happens if gum disease is not
A Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on
the whole so that you do notice the damage it is doing. However, the
bacteria are sometimes more active and this 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 can be lost. If the
disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more
Q How do I know if I have
A The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the
rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when
you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also
Q What do I do if I think I have gum
A 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 sign that
periodontal disease has started. X-rays may also be needed to see the
amount of bone that has been lost. This assessment is very important, so
the correct treatment can be prescribed for you.
Q What treatments are needed?
A Your dentist will usually give your teeth a thorough
clean. You’ll also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself,
cleaning all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may
take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
Q What else may be needed?
A Once your teeth are clean, your dentist may decide to
carry out further cleaning of the roots of the teeth, to make sure that
pockets of bacteria are removed.
You’ll probably need the treatment area to be numbed before
anything is done. Afterwards, you may feel some discomfort for up to 48
Q Once I have had periodontal disease, can
I get it again?
A Periodontal disease is never cured. But 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 every day, and go for regular check ups by the
dentist and hygienist.