Gum diseases: what you need to know

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Written by Dr. Gopika Krishna

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a serious condition that affects the gums and bones that support your teeth. It is caused by bacteria that accumulate in plaque and tartar on the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help manage gum disease and prevent it from progressing.

Types of Gum Disease

There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form of the two and is characterized by inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease that can cause damage to the bones that support your teeth.

Other types of gum diseases include:

  • Necrotizing Periodontal Disease:
    This type of gum disease occurs when bacteria in plaque cause tissue death around a tooth or multiple teeth. Symptoms include severe pain, bleeding from the gums, bad breath, loosening of teeth, and pus between teeth and gums.
  • Abscessed Tooth:
    This type of gum infection occurs when bacteria from plaque enter a tooth’s root canal system through an opening in the tooth’s enamel layer or through a crack in the tooth’s crown or root surface.
    Symptoms include severe pain when biting down on food or drinking hot beverages; swelling around affected areas; fever or chills due to infection spreading throughout the body via the bloodstream; and bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth due to infection spreading throughout the body via the bloodstream.
  • Pericoronitis:
    This type of gum infection occurs when bacteria from plaque accumulates around partially erupted wisdom teeth (third molars). Swelling around affected areas, pain while chewing or brushing near affected areas, difficulty opening mouth due to swelling or pain near affected areas, and bad breath or taste in mouth due to infection spreading throughout the body via the bloodstream are some of the symptoms.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

The most common symptom of gum disease is bleeding gums. This can occur when brushing or flossing your teeth, or even when eating hard foods. Other symptoms include redness and swelling of the gums, receding gums (the gum line moving away from the teeth), bad breath, loose teeth, and pus between the teeth and gums.

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to more serious problems such as tooth loss and bone loss around the teeth.

Gum Disease Treatment

The first step in treating gum disease is to remove any plaque or tartar buildup on the teeth. This can be done through professional cleaning at your dentist’s office or with an at-home dental care routine. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are essential for keeping plaque and tartar at bay. It’s also important to use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help prevent future buildup.

If your gum disease has progressed beyond gingivitis, your dentist may recommend more aggressive treatments such as scaling and root planing. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar from below the gum line with special instruments. Root planing involves smoothing out rough spots on the roots of your teeth so that bacteria can’t build up there as easily. Both scaling and root planing are usually done under local anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend antibiotics to treat gum disease. Antibiotics can help reduce inflammation and kill harmful bacteria in your mouth that are contributing to the infection. Your dentist may also prescribe a special mouthwash or gel containing antibiotics to help speed up the healing process.

In severe cases of gum disease, surgery may be necessary to restore health to your gums and teeth. Surgery may involve grafting tissue from another part of your body onto affected areas of your gums or removing diseased tissue from around the roots of your teeth. Your dentist will discuss all available options with you before deciding on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Home Remedies you can try on for preventing gum diseases

First, it is important to practise good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help remove plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease. It is also important to visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

Second, quit smoking or using any other tobacco products. Tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease by reducing the flow of blood to the gums, making them more vulnerable to infection. Quitting smoking or using other tobacco products can help reduce this risk.

Third, eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating a balanced diet helps keep your gums healthy by providing them with essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, avoiding sugary foods and drinks helps reduce plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to gum disease if not removed regularly.

Finally, manage stress levels as much as possible. Stress has been linked to an increased risk of developing gum disease due to its effects on the immune system. Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help reduce stress levels and improve overall health.


How is gum disease treated?

Gum disease is treated by a dentist or periodontist. The treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. It may involve a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to fight any infection. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissue or bones. Other treatments may include scaling and root planing, laser therapy, or tissue grafts. Good oral hygiene is essential for preventing and treating gum disease, so brushing and flossing regularly are important.

What causes gum disease?

If not removed, plaque can harden and form tartar, which can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). This can lead to a loss of attachment between the gums and teeth, creating pockets that become infected. As the disease progresses, it can cause the destruction of the tissue and bone that support the teeth, leading to tooth loss. Gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults. It is also linked to other health problems such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and respiratory diseases.

How long does it take to heal a gum disease?

The amount of time it takes to heal a gum disease depends on the severity of the condition. Generally, mild cases can be treated with improved oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Moderate cases may require more intensive treatment, such as scaling and root planing, antibiotics, or surgery. Severe cases may require multiple treatments over a period of months or even years. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions for proper care and maintenance to ensure the best possible outcome for your gum disease. With proper care and maintenance, most people can expect to see improvement in their gum health within a few weeks or months.

Is gum disease deadly?

No, gum disease is not usually deadly. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even bone loss in the jaw. In rare cases, gum disease can also lead to heart problems or other serious medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to practice good oral hygiene habits and visit your dentist regularly to prevent gum disease from developing or worsening.

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