What is gum disease?

People don’t normally ask “what is gum disease” till their gums start bleeding after eating or brushing, or if their teeth start to feel loose. Periodontal disease, better known as gum disease, is the root cause of most oral ailments. At an early stage, it may cause mild discomfort but when it is more advanced, it can lead to an inability to chew, bleeding, and even tooth loss.


How do you get gum disease?

The human mouth is a delicate ecosystem that requires the correct alkalinity (saliva is slightly alkaline) and bacteria present on the teeth. Yes, some bacterial presence in the mouth is perfectly normal, but lack of proper hygiene and diet can lead to an excess build-up.

Poor brushing and flossing habits cause a thin film of bacteria to build up over the tooth’s enamel. This sticky substance is called plaque and it is what causes yellowing of the teeth. If teeth are not cleaned properly the bacterial build-up can lead to gingivitis (early stages gum disease). If gingivitis is left untreated it progresses to periodontitis (advanced gum disease).

What are the first signs of gum disease?

You don’t go from having perfectly healthy gums to periodontitis overnight! The infection takes months, sometimes years, to fully develop. It’s why gum disease is more common in adulthood than in childhood.

The first signs of gum disease are:

  •          Persistent bad breath
  •           Inflamed and red gums
  •          Receding gums
  •          Tender gums that bleed
  •           Pain while chewing
  •          Sensitive teeth
  •           Teeth feeling loose

Gum disease can be treated at the stage of gingivitis and prevented from progressing to periodontitis.

Can gum disease be cured?

Absolutely! In fact, if a person experiencing symptoms receives timely dental care, gum disease can be cured completely. Treating gingivitis is a straightforward procedure and non-surgical. It’s only when the infection is neglected that it will progress to periodontitis and require more invasive procedures.


The simple wisdom for curing gum disease: see your dentist as soon as you feel the first symptoms!

Scaling – Scaling is performed by a hygienist (at the dentist’s office) who carefully removes the bacterial build-up and tartar deposits on teeth and under the surface of the gums.

Planing – Planing cleans the roots of teeth and reduces bacterial build-up under the gums that cannot be removed by brushing or flossing.

Medication – If the dentist is of the opinion that the infection cannot be cured by cleaning alone, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic mouthwash or gels to be applied between teeth and gums. The dentist may also prescribe antibiotic medication to fight off infection.

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Preventing a recurrence of gum disease

Fortunately, stopping gum disease from developing in the first place and preventing recurrence doesn’t require anything exceptional. The key is simply good dental hygiene.

          Brush twice a day

          Use a fluoride toothpaste

          Floss regularly (or use a water pick, wooden or plastic flossing brush)

          Visit the dentist every 4-6 months for routine cleanings

Diet and lifestyle also play a part in exacerbating the accumulation of plaque. Avoiding sugary foods, soft drinks and smoking also slow bacterial build-up.

Is gum disease contagious?

Most people find it hard to believe but gum disease is contagious. Like any other infection, it too can be transmitted to another person. Gum disease can be transferred when you kiss, share cutlery, or sip from the same glass.

Speak to Dawson Dental about your dental cleaning. Our hygienists are qualified professionals with a vast amount of experience. We are sensitive to patients’ needs and work with you to keep you comfortable during scaling and planing.