What is Gum Disease?

  • Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque around between the teeth. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums. Gum disease varies, from gingivitis which is completely reversible, to chronic periodontitis which is the main cause of tooth loss. Gum disease usually progresses very slowly and with monitoring, advice and treatment most people are able to keep most of their teeth for life.

What do I do if I have Gum Disease?

  • To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure that you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is usually done by brushing & flossing but your dentist may also recommend other techniques. See our " Healthy Teeth" section for more advice.
  • Cigarette smoking is a major cause of gum disease. Smokers will not respond to treatment as well as non-smokers. Therefore it is important, to cease smoking if you wish to save your teeth.

What will my dentist do?

  • When conducting a dental examination, your dentist will check your gums and offer a variety of treatments. Sometimes oral hygiene instruction is all that is needed i.e. brushing and flossing. Sometimes a simple scale and polish by the dentist will be prescribed.
  • Depending on the severity of cases, the dentist may need to carry out further cleaning of the roots of the teeth to make sure deposits of bacteria are removed. This may need to be done with the aid of a local anaesthetic. Afterwards, you may feel some discomfort for a few days.
  • Your dentist may prescribe several cleaning visits to get your mouth clean, and then a review period set with further treatment. These visits may be as many as four times per year.
  • It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that the patient follows the oral hygiene instructions. Unless plaque removal is carried out regularly, including cleaning between the teeth, then the appointments with our dentist are of little value.

What happens if gum disease is not treated?

  • As gum disease progresses the bone supporting the teeth is lost. The gums and bone will become infected – sometimes causing bad breath and a bad taste. Eventually the teeth will become loose and will need to be removed. Gum disease usually does not hurt until it is fairly advanced.

Can gum disease be cured?

  • If you have already lost bone around the teeth, this bone will not be able to grow back fully. If you maintain perfect cleaning, any further loss of bone should be slow and may stop altogether. However, you must make sure that you remove all your plaque every day and return for regular examinations with the dentist.