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Gum disease advice

Gum disease advice

What is gum

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums, bone structure and supporting tissues that are keeping the teeth in place. Gum disease is caused by a build-up of bacterial plaque on the tooth, root or implant surface. When this dental plaque starts to challenge the immune defence mechanisms of the individual, oral tissues that the plaque comes into contact with become red, swollen and eventually infected.

The first tissues to become infected are the gums, leading to a mild form of the condition commonly known as gingivitis. If this is left untreated, the infected tissues would lead to the establishment of a periodontal ‘pocket’ between the gum and the tooth. The bacteria collected here is what can lead to the loss of tissue attachment around the tooth, causing the tooth to become loose, move or ultimately lost. Gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.

Whilst this might sound scary, it’s vitally important to remember that gum disease is highly preventable and easily treatable if caught during its early stages. With more than 45% of adults in the UK affected by gum disease, it can have a significant impact on quality of life and general wellbeing.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak to our friendly team with any concerns you may have about the health of your gums.


What is gum disease?

The stages of
gum disease

Gum disease typically has four distinct stages. It’s crucially important to be aware that if periodontal disease is spotted at an early stage, then it is much easier to treat and can even be reversed in some cases. If the disease is allowed to progress to the more advanced stages, it becomes more difficult to treat and surgical intervention is often required. Let’s take a closer look the four stages of gum disease:

Stage 1: Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a common form of mild gum disease, resulting in irritation, redness and swelling around the base of the teeth due to a build-up of plaque. Although the vast majority of gingivitis symptoms are painless and can often go unnoticed, bleeding gums is one of the typical initial symptoms and should never be ignored. Since it is possible to be unaware you have gingivitis, consistently excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits are essential. If gingivitis is diagnosed, it’s easily treatable and potentially reversible.

Stage 2: Early Periodontal Disease

Whilst this stage of periodontal disease can unfortunately not be reversed, it can be managed with the correct treatment. If gingivitis has progressed to early periodontal disease, it means the infection has reached the bone and started to affect and damage the bone structure. As periodontal disease advances, the bacteria become more destructive and can subsequently lead to bone loss. Treatment at this stage will ordinarily include extensive cleaning of the gums to remove the deeply-rooted bacteria deposits.

Stage 3: Moderate Periodontal Disease

Whilst the symptoms of moderate periodontal disease are the same as early periodontal disease, the probing depths, or periodontal pockets as they are more commonly known as, are deeper. With a depth of between six and seven millimetres at this stage, this enables the bacteria to make its way into your bloodstream, putting your immune system under strain with the infection. The treatment for both early and moderate periodontal dental disease are also the same: scaling and root planing. These are intense, deep cleaning procedures that remove bacterial deposits far below the gumline. In the case of moderate disease, the cleaning will need to be deeper.

Stage 4: Advanced Periodontal Disease

If the earlier stages of periodontal disease have been ignored and left untreated, the disease will eventually progress to the most serious of the four stages. Advanced periodontal disease threatens a 50-90% chance of irreversible bone loss, leading to the loss of teeth. Symptoms of this final stage include gums that ooze pus, severe pain when chewing, extreme cold sensitivity, halitosis, major bone loss and the movement or loosening of teeth. The only treatment option at this stage is periodontal surgery or periodontal laser therapy, which works to clean out the deep pockets of bacteria beneath the gums and encourage the infected tissue to heal.

Who can get
gum disease?

Whilst more than 45% of adults in the UK are affected by some form of gum disease, there are a variety of risk factors that may contribute to the development of periodontal disease and/or it’s progression. It’s important to talk to your periodontist with any concerns you may have for early detection of the disease and to establish the right treatment plan.

Some of the contributing risk factors include:


Studies have indicated that the older population have the highest rates of periodontal disease, with as many as 70% of over 65’s experiencing some form of gum disease.


It’s no secret that tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, among many other health problems. It’s perhaps lesser known that smoking and tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.


Despite diligent at-home oral hygiene habits, research has indicated that some people may unfortunately be genetically susceptible to developing gum disease. For these people, regular dental visits are vital to ensure the development of gum disease is identified early and kept at bay.


Extensive research has proven that stress can make it more difficult for the body’s immune system to fight off infection; periodontal disease is no exception.


Just as you would inform your health care providers of any medication you are taking, you should also let your periodontist know about the medication. Some pharmaceutical drugs, including oral contraceptives, antidepressants and certain heart medications have been shown to affect your oral and gum health.

Clenching or grinding your teeth

Putting excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth, clenching or grinding your teeth could potentially speed up the progression of periodontal tissue destruction.

Other systemic diseases

Studies have demonstrated a connection between periodontal disease and other systemic conditions that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis have all been linked to deterioration of the gums.

Poor nutrition or obesity

Research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of an individual developing periodontal disease. Even without being clinically obese, a diet low on nutrients can compromise the body’s immune response and make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection. Gum disease always begins as an infection and therefore poor nutrition can lead to a decline in your gum health.

gum disease?

If periodontal disease is identified in its early stages, it is easily treatable. If it is ignored, the disease can quickly progress and it becomes irreversible, often needing surgical intervention. 

Gum disease
& general health

Discover how some systemic diseases and other health conditions link to periodontal disease.