Gum disease - what is it?

The following information is to help you understand your own gum health. Gum disease is significant and shouldn't be ignored. If you have any of the symptoms listed you should consult your dentist or hygienist

Gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.

If left, this plaque builds up on and between teeth, irritating gums and making them swollen.

When this swelling happens, it can allow a space or 'pocket' to form beneath the tooth. As the amount of bacterial plaque increases, so does the depth of the pocket. This may cause gums to recede, exposing more of the tooth.

If left untreated, the pocket can become so large that teeth may loosen and fall out or even need to be removed.

The course of gum inflammation:

  • Healthy gums

  • Gum inflamation (gingivitis)

  • Inflamation with minimal bone loss (periodontitis)

  • Advanced periodontitis which can lead to tooth loss

There are different stages of gum disease:

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Periodontitis
  3. Advanced periodontitis


Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. It occurs when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when brushed.

If left untreated, long-standing gingivitis can develop into severe gingivitis or periodontitis.


Periodontitis is a more severe gum condition where the gum tissue has been affected and pockets start to form. In addition, periodontitis also involves bone degradation which can ultimately result in tooth loss.

Periodontitis is irreversible and its progression should be stopped as soon as possible by dental treatment and use of antibacterial treatment products as recommended by your dentist.

Advanced periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is caused by continuous presence of bacteria which causes the gums to recede further and the teeth to become loose. This may eventually lead to tooth loss.