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Gum disease or periodontitis

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is a serious infection of the gums that damages the soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports your teeth if left untreated. This can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications. Here’s a detailed overview of gum disease:


Gum disease is primarily caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. The bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the gums, which can lead to periodontitis.

Stages of Gum Disease

  1. Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease, characterized by inflammation of the gums. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, and bleeding during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is reversible with proper oral hygiene and professional treatment.

  2. Periodontitis: If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. In this stage, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets that can become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen, and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed, leading to tooth loss.



  • Swollen, red, or bleeding gums

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Painful chewing

  • Loose or shifting teeth

  • Receding gums or longer-appearing teeth

  • Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums


Risk Factors

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Smoking or tobacco use

  • Genetic predisposition

  • Diabetes

  • Hormonal changes (such as those related to pregnancy or menopause)

  • Medications that reduce saliva flow

  • Diseases that affect the immune system (such as HIV/AIDS or cancer)



Periodontal disease is diagnosed through:

  • Review of medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors

  • Examination of the gums for signs of inflammation, bleeding, or recession

  • Measuring the depth of the pockets around the teeth using a periodontal probe

  • Dental X-rays to check for bone loss



  1. Nonsurgical Treatments:

    • Scaling and Root Planing: A deep-cleaning procedure to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line.

    • Antibiotics: Topical or oral antibiotics to control bacterial infection.

  2. Surgical Treatments:

    • Flap Surgery: Lifting the gums to remove tartar deposits and then suturing them back in place to fit more snugly around the teeth.

    • Bone and Tissue Grafts: Procedures to regenerate lost bone or gum tissue.

    • Guided Tissue Regeneration: Encouraging the regrowth of bone and gum tissue destroyed by periodontitis.



  • Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth.

  • Visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.

  • Avoid smoking and tobacco use.

  • Maintain a healthy diet and manage conditions like diabetes.



If untreated, periodontitis can lead to:

  • Tooth loss

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

  • Complications with diabetes control

  • Respiratory issues due to inhaled bacteria from the mouth


Proper oral hygiene and regular dental care are crucial in preventing and managing gum disease. If you notice any symptoms, it’s important to see a dental professional promptly for evaluation and treatment.

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