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Common Dental Problems and FAQs - Gum Disease

Gum disease or Periodontal Disease as dentists call it, is caused by plaque – which is the name given to the film of bacteria that collects on teeth. Gum disease involves the inflammation of the gums and then infection. Periodontal Disease is usually painless which can make it harder to detect.

The early stages
In its early stages just the gum is affected and the gums become inflamed and appear red and swollen and will bleed easily and the bleeding can often be noticed on brushing. You may notice bad breath. At this stage if you get rid of all the plaque and keep it away by careful brushing, flossing and maybe the use of mouthwashes as well your gums should return to normal.

The later stages – bone loss
If the disease is not stopped it continues to spread down under the gum and the gums may become more swollen and bleed more often. The plaque may harden to tartar around the teeth. The infection spreads into the bone that holds the teeth in place and in simple terms starts to dissolve the bone away. Once the bone goes it cannot be naturally replaced.


How the teeth are affected
The effect of losing bone is that the tooth may become gradually loose and eventually if the disease process is not stopped then the affected tooth or teeth will fall out. In these later stages you will need the help of a dentist or dental hygienist to carry out cleaning under the gums to clean out the affected areas. If the disease is severe then you may need to see a specialist for treatment and sometimes gum surgery is required.

Prevention of gum disease
Gum disease can usually be prevented by good and careful teeth cleaning and regular cleanings or scale and polishes with your dentist or hygienist.

Studies have also shown that smoking is a risk factor for gum disease and every effort should be stop smoking as part of treatment for the condition.

Your dentist should check your gums at every check up by gently probing round your teeth to check for areas of bleeding or to look for areas where bone may be being lost. Additionally routine x-rays will show the bone levels around your mouth. Your dentist should be keeping a record of the condition of your gums as they are as important as your teeth.

If you go to the dentist regularly and keep your teeth and gums clean there is usually no reason why you should suffer from gum disease.

Our service is only available in respect of treatment provided in England and Wales. The documents contained in this web site are presented for information purposes only, and neither the material, nor the responses to questions are intended to replace professional dental care or attention by a qualified practitioner. The materials in this web site cannot, and should not, be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of dental treatment. Askthedentist strongly advises all users with dental problems to consult a dentist.