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Gum Disease

Gum Disease

Gum disease is the general term for several conditions which result in the inflammation and destruction of the gums and, potentially, the bone that supports the teeth. This common condition can affect one or several teeth and is the major cause of tooth loss in patients over the age of 35.

The disease often has few symptoms that the patient can detect until the later stages. More than most conditions, effective treatment involves teamwork – from the dentist, the hygienist and the patient.

What are the causes?

The disease is caused by plaque – a soft, sticky, colourless film of bacteria that is continuously being produced.

Who is affected?

Anyone who allows plaque to build up on their teeth and gums is at risk if developing the condition. Patients who smoke have an increased risk of gum disease, since they are more likely to produce plaque and the lack of oxygen in the blood of smokers means that infected gums may fail to heal. Some drugs, medicines and conditions (such as diabetes) can also affect your gums and reduce your resistance to gum disease. Pregnant women are subject to significant hormonal changes that can affect many tissues in the body including the gums. Your dentist can advise you if you are at particular risk.

The Symptoms

Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of the disease. Plaque builds where the gum and teeth meet and the bacteria in it can make the gums red and swollen and they may bleed easily. There is usually little or no pain. This early form of the disease is reversible with treatment and good home care.

If plaque is ignored, the gum may become detached from the tooth, forming a “pocket” in which more plaque can gather. This is difficult to clean and the pocket may deepen, filling with plaque and hardening to form tartar – which can only be removed by professional cleaning.

Eventually, the fibres which secure the teeth to the bone, and the bone itself are attacked. This later stage of gum disease, is known as periodontitis. The pocket deepens, the tooth loosens and the gum may shrink back. If left unchecked, gum disease will lead to the loosening and loss of teeth.

You Can Help – Your Responsibilities

A daily oral care routine is important to prevent plaque build up.

  • Brush teeth thoroughly at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning plaque from the surface of the tooth and at the gum
  • Regular flossing is important. It is the most effective way of cleaning the gumline and between teeth, where a toothbrush cannot clean thoroughly
  • For additional protection use an anti-plaque fluoride mouthwash
  • Regular dental check ups will help identify any problems at an early stage, when they can be treated relatively easily
  • A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent gum disease

What Your Dentist Can Offer

  • It is reassuring to know that, in its early stages, it is a reversible condition. Initial treatment is often by professional cleaning. The only reliable method of controlling gum disease is the regular removal of dental plaque
  • Scaling and polishing by your dentist or hygienist can remove tartar
  • In severe cases, deep cleaning below the gumline may be necessary. This may require surgery, under local anaesthetic
  • If gum disease has been ignored, and progressed too far for curative treatment, the tooth or teeth may have to be extracted


  • Contact Us If you need advice on any matters please call us on 01932-220111 and our friendly staff will be pleased to help