Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection caused by accumulation of dental plaque on the teeth. It is a disease that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease where the gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. Early stages of gum disease are reversible with the right treatment and at home care. If you suspect you have gum disease it is important to see a dentist who can treat the condition as soon as possible.
Dr Carolyn Langrell-Read completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Periodontal (Gum) Disease and is a member of the New Zealand Periodontic society.
While ‘gingivitis’ (early stage gum disease) is usually painless, if not treated, it can advance to periodontitis. ‘Periodontitis’ is a more advanced stage of periodontal disease. As the bone and tissues surrounding the teeth deteriorate due to this disease, a gum pocket forms around the tooth. This pocket becomes infected, which destroys more bone and tissue. Eventually, the tooth may become loose and fall out or need to be extracted.
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between the gum and the tooth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
Sometimes gum disease can progress without any symptoms or pain. During a regular dental examination, Dr Langrell-Read checks for signs of periodontal disease, so undetected disease can be treated before it can advance.
Gum Disease Diagnosis and Prevention
- Proper brushing twice a day and flossing daily will help prevent periodontal disease.
- During a regular dental examination, the dentist or hygienist will inspect the gums and probe between the tooth and gum to check for periodontal disease.
- A professional cleaning every three to six months by a dentist or dental hygienist will remove plaque and calculus from hard-to-reach areas that might otherwise be susceptible to periodontal disease.