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What is gum disease?


What is gum disease?

Periodontal or Gum disease starts with a bacterial infection that destroys the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth. This progresses silently, often without pain or symptoms. It may develop slowly or progress rapidly.

Nine out of ten people are afflicted with some form of gum disease in their lifetime and it affects more than half the population over 18 years of age. After 35, approximately three out of four adults develop some form of the disease.

What causes gum disease?

It is usually caused by a build up of plaque that forms naturally on the teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria, which produce toxins that irritate and damage the gums. If left untreated it can spread below the gums and can damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth and this causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.

Click to learn more about bad gum health signs and preventions.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is the first stage of gum disease.  At this stage, it is very easy to treat.

The cause of gingivitis is the sticky, colourless film of bacteria – plaque that forms constantly on your teeth and gums.

If plaque is not removed by regular brushing and flossing it will irritate your gums, causing gingivitis. At this early stage of gum disease luckily most damage can be reversed. This is because the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place have normally not been affected. Left untreated however, gingivitis can become periodontitis which causes permanent damage to your teeth, jaw and smile.

What is periodontal disease?

Untreated gingivitis can become the more serious periodontal disease. As the disease progresses and gets worse, the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.