Oral hygiene and gum disease

You may not even know that you have gum disease sometimes it’s not painful and you may not have any symptoms. Gum disease normally presents itself as swelling or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. If caught in the early stages, however, it’s entirely possible to reverse the progress of gum disease. That’s why during any routine checkup at the Burford Road Clinic your mouth will be carefully examined for signs of gum disease.

There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.


When people talk of gum disease, they generally mean gingivitis, a condition in which the gums turn red and inflamed. They may bleed when you brush your teeth, and often, this bleeding is the very first sign of gingivitis that you actually notice. Gingivitis affects more people than you think, and can be reversed if caught in the early stages, simply by following proper dental hygiene practices.

Usually the first signs of gingivitis are:

  • bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
  • red and swollen gums

Periodontal disease

If left unchecked, however, gingivitis could lead to a host of other gum diseases. Periodontitis, for instance, is a more extreme stage of gingivitis in which the inflammation of the gums spreads to the bones holding the tooth in place. Soon, the tooth can begin to shake loose, and will, in time, fall out if left untreated.

If gingivitis has developed into periodontitis, you may have:

  • a bad taste in your mouth
  • a wobbly tooth or teeth
  • gum abscesses (pus that collects under your gum)

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist straight away.

Causes of gum disease

Gum disease happens when plaque builds up around teeth. This is more likely to happen if you find it difficult to clean your teeth well, for example if you wear braces or dentures, or have irregularities in your teeth that you can’t reach with a toothbrush.

There are other factors that can make you more likely to get gum disease, for example if you smoke or have diabetes.

Diagnosis of gum disease

Your dentist will ask about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may also ask you about your medical history.

Gingivitis can usually be diagnosed just by your dentist examining your teeth and gums. If your dentist thinks you have periodontitis, he or she may look at your mouth more thoroughly and check for gum disease using a periodontal probe. This is used to measure any pockets that may have developed around your gums.

Treatment of gum disease

The type of treatment you have will depend on how severe your gum disease has become. During your consultation with one of our gentle professionals we will work out a specific treatment plan which is tailored to your needs, to ensure quick and effective results.

Prevention of gum disease

You can prevent gum disease by controlling the amount of plaque and tartar that builds up on your teeth. Regular visits to your dentist or hygienist, brushing and flossing your teeth properly and stopping smoking will help to do this.

Dental floss or inter-dental brushes can remove plaque and small bits of food from between your teeth and under your gum line – areas that a manual toothbrush can’t reach. It’s important to use the correct cleaning techniques, so ask your dentist or hygienist for advice.

Even thorough brushing and flossing can’t remove every trace of plaque. Most people have irregularities in their teeth where plaque can build up out of reach and harden into tartar. This can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist during scaling.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Follow this link to find out more about how diabetes can make control of gum disease more important:

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