Gum Disease

gum disease

What is Gum Disease?

As the name suggests it is a disease of the gums. It can have various levels of severity, from simple swelling of gums, tenderness, soreness, bleeding and laceration, loss of gum bone and loss of teeth. It is estimated that nearly half of the population in developed countries have some level of gum disease. Luckily, the incidence is less in children. Along with caries this is the most common oral ailment. Milder form of gum disease is also called gingivitis (‘gingiva’ means gums, and itis means swelling or ailment). A more advanced form of gum disease is called periodontal disease.


Symptoms vary at various stages the disease:

  • Reddened and /or swollen gums.
  • Gums bleed easily when brushing, or flossing. A bite at a hard food item e.g., an apple or carrot leaves a trace of blood.
  • Gums start pulling away from the teeth.
  • Bad mouth odor.
  • Pus visible between teeth and the gums.
  • Teeth start getting loose.
  • Teeth do not fit together properly, i.e., changes in bite.
How does it develop?

In most cases gum disease develops due to disregard of oral hygiene. Plaque keeps building on teeth all the time automatically, and gets removed by brushing and flossing. But if cleaning is not thorough, plaque will accumulate in some areas especially those not easily accessible to the brush. Plaque can harden into tartar over time. Plaque and tartar are nourishing ground for harmful bacterial which are always present. These bacteria start the disease, the earliest condition being reddening and swelling followed by the symptoms above.


The best course is always to prevent an ailment. This is also true for the gum disease. Good oral hygiene habits are the best preventive measures. Follow the advice below to keep gum disease away.

  • Brush and floss your teeth minimum twice a day for at least two minutes in the morning and at night.
  • Use a fluoride tooth paste, and occasionally, add a mouth wash.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid chewing harmful things like beetle nut etc. (This is common in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India)
  • Regularly see you dentist at a frequency advised by him.
Treatment of Gum Disease

Regular oral hygiene should normally prevent development of gum disease. But in case you somehow do get it the treatment action taken by your dentist will depend on the level of the disease. That is why you are advised to see your dentist regularly. Early detection and treatment will avoid pain and cost. (The old adage “A stitch in time saves nine). If you notice any of the symptoms above take an appointment with your dentist. In the meantime, start using an available over the counter mouthwash.

At the dentist’s office you can get one or more of the following:
  • Scaling and polish: The dentist will remove the plaque and the tartar by scraping your teeth and then polishing them. Repeated scaling and polishing may be required.
  • Debridement: In more severe cases of gum disease, through cleaning will be done under the gums to clean up the bacteria sticking to the teeth under the gums. Local anesthesia may be needed to for root-operation.
  • Surgery: In extreme cases surgery may be needed followed by anti-biotics.

It must be stressed again that prevention is more than ‘half the cure’. Regular oral hygiene, tooth and gum friendly food, and regular visits to the dentist are essential to avoid gum disease.
This gum disease information was written by a dentist. The owners of this domain and website are not trained medical professionals to offer any medical advise. You should always consult your own dental provider when making decisions about your dental health. Find a dental provider in the United States at and get your dental needs at a discounted rate.

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