Gum Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatments

Gum disease is a common dental condition that occurs when bacteria gets deep into the gum tissue causing it to become infected and inflamed. It is typically a result of poor oral hygiene.

Depending on the severity of your gum disease, you may experience symptoms such as bleeding gums when brushing or flossing teeth, inflamed gums, loose teeth, and bad breath.

Gum disease begins as gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can occur and is much more serious because the bone below the gums is infected or inflamed.

What are the causes of gum disease?

  • Plaque

Plaque is the leading cause of gum disease. Plaque is bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums but can be easily removed by brushing and flossing. Plaque build-up hardens into tartar which requires professional removal by a dental hygienist.

  • Pregnancy

Hormonal levels rise and fall throughout your pregnancy which puts your gums at a higher risk for disease. Although the risk subsides after pregnancy, you may want to book more frequent cleanings while pregnant to get your gum disease under control. 

  • Nutritional Deficiencies

Your gums are held together by fibers that consist of a protein called collagen. These connected fibers keep gum tissues and blood vessels strong and anchor your teeth in your gums. Vitamin C is essential for collagen formation and strong gums. 

  • Smoking

Smoking weakens your immune system which makes your mouth vulnerable to infections like gum disease. Once you have gum disease, if you continue to smoke, healing can be challenging even with treatment.

  • Genetics

If you have a history of gum disease in your family, you may be more susceptible.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

The first signs of gingivitis are inflamed, red gum tissue that bleeds when brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods. Gum recession, bad breath (halitosis), loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and a constant bad taste in your mouth can all be symptoms of worsening gum disease.

Advanced gum disease (periodontal) may have more severe symptoms.

  • Excessive saliva
  • Metallic taste
  • Difficulty swallowing and talking
  • Bleeding ulcers in the mouth
  • Pus between the gum or teeth
  • Spaces opening up between the teeth
  • Jaw pain
  • The overall feeling of being sick, possibly with a fever

How to diagnose gum diseases?

A dentist can diagnose gum disease by examining your gums and checking for signs of inflammation and infection such as red, swollen or bleeding gums. They can also examine sensitive teeth around the gum line to check for receding gums.

At your dental exam, if your dentist suspects you have gum disease, they will use a probe as a ruler to measure gum tissue and check for any pockets around the teeth. When measured, a healthy mouth shows a depth of between one and three millimeters. The deeper the pockets, the more severe the disease. 

Bitewing X-rays can show if periodontal disease is adversely impacting the underlying bone. Tell your dentist if you are experiencing any unusual jaw pain. Facial aesthetic treatments like Botox in Telford can also help to alleviate any discomfort associated with your jaw such as TMD.

What are the available treatments for gum disease?

After a professional cleaning by your hygienist, acute gum disease can be reversed by brushing and flossing after every meal and using an antibacterial mouthwash.

More severe gum disease may require a deep cleaning. Scaling is the cleaning process that removes plaque and tartar build-up beneath gum tissue. Root planing can smooth the surface of the root which prevents future build-up of bacteria and tartar.

Antibiotics help control the bacterial infection to heal your teeth and gums. This can be in the form of a mouthwash, a gel or even fibres that are placed in the gum pockets to speed recovery.  

Advanced periodontitis may require dental surgery. This can include tissue grafts, bone grafts, pocket reduction surgery, and guided tissue regeneration.

The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist for regular dental exams and a professional dental cleaning.

Author Bio:

Broseley Dental Practice Ltd. is a modern, private and NHS dentist in Broseley, Shropshire. The Principal Dentist, Dr. Manoj Joshi, has over a decade’s experience and is committed to providing quality care to patients of all ages.


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