Gum disease is inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth.
If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up and the bacteria can inflame your gums, eventually extending to underlying tissues and bone that support the teeth. This can cause teeth to become loose, fall out or require extraction by a dentist.
There are two main stages of gum disease:
This is the early phase of gum disease, it is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque build-up at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove plaque, certain types of bacteria with-in plaque produce toxins (poisons) that can inflame the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and deeper connective tissues that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
At this stage, the supporting bone and fibres that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. Your gums may not hold the teeth in place and begin to form a pocket below the gum line, which encourages more plaque to form.
Professional gum treatment and improved daily home care can arrest any further damage and help prevent it from returning. In the final stages of gum disease, the fibres and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed to the extent which may cause your teeth to shift or loosen. This can affect how well you can chew your food and severely affected teeth may need to be extracted by your dentist.
Gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common amongst adults. If detected in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed – so see your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
By scheduling regular check ups, early stages of gum disease can be treated before they lead to a more severe condition. Please note smoking can make gum disease worse. It reduces any bleeding from gums, whilst gum disease continues, so you may miss the first signs of any problems.