Gum diseaseis a very common condition where the gums become swollen,sore or infected .

Most adults in theUK have gum disease to some degree andmost people experience it at least once. It's much less common in children.

If you have gum disease, yourgums may bleed whenyou brush your teeth and you may have Halitosis (bad breath) . This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis.

If gingivitis isn't treated, a condition called periodontitis can develop. This affects more tissues that support teeth andhold them in place.

Ifperiodontitisisn't treated, the bone in your jawmay be damaged and small spaces can open upbetween the gum and teeth.Your teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.

Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria.

Some bacteria in plaqueare harmless, but some are harmful for the health of your gums. If you don't remove plaque from your teeth by brushing them, itbuilds up and irritates your gums. This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and soreness.

Find a dentist near you .

Your dentistcan carry out a thorough dental examination to check the health of your gums, which may involve inserting a thinmetal stick with a bend in one end(periodontal probe) beside your teeth.

In some cases, a number of X-rays may be needed to check the condition of your teeth and jaw bone.

Preventing and treating gum disease

Mild cases of gum disease can usually be treated by maintaining a good level of oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. You should also make sure you attend regular dental check-ups.

In most cases, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to give your teeth a thorough clean and remove any hardened plaque (tartar). They'll also be able to show you how to clean your teeth effectively to help prevent plaque building up in the future.

If you have severe gum disease, you'llusually need to have further medical and dental treatment and, in some cases, surgery may need to be carried out.This will usually be performed by a specialist in gumproblems (periodontics).

At each appointment your dentist will advise when you need your next appointment.

If you have an increased risk of developing gum problems for example, if you smoke or have diabetes you may be advised to visit your dentist more often so your teeth and gums can be closely monitored.

Complications of gum disease

If you have untreated gum disease that develops into periodontitis, it can lead to further complications, such as:

  • gum abscesses (painful collections of pus)
  • receding gums
  • loose teeth
  • loss of teeth


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016