Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Gum Disease:
Gum disease is common in people all around the world.In fact most of the people are said to suffer from gum disease at some point of their lives.This can range from simple gum inflammation to periodontitis where teeth are lost.

What causes Gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque and tartar. Plaque is a thin film that forms on the teeth and is mostly comprised of bacteria, mucus, food, and other particles. As plaque advances, it hardens into tartar, which gives a home to bacteria. Bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the gums, which is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, it can become a more serious infection known as periodontitis.

Gum disease has 2 stages:

Gingivitis:An inflammation of the gums — is the initial stage of gum disease and the easiest to treat. The direct cause of gingivitis is plaque – the soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth and gums.In gingivitis, the gum become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Proper oral hygiene can help in treating gingivitis.
Periodontitis:A more serious gum disease that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports the teeth is called as periodontitis.If left untreated it will lead to tooth loss and in some cases increase the risk of heart attack and other health problems.Periodontitis is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.Although it is uncommon in children,but risk increases with age.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Gums that are red, tender, or swollen
  • Bad breath
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums

Risk factors:

  • Smoking or Chewing tobacco
  • Broken fillings
  • Diabetes
  • Consuming certain medications (oral contraceptives, steroids, anticonvulsants and chemotherapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic factors
  • Compromised immunity (such as HIV/AIDS patients)
  • Hormonal changes in girls and women

Diagnosis of Gum disease:

  • Your dentist may take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss
  • May use periodontal probe to check for space pockets below gum line
  • Will check for common symptoms like gum bleeding, swelling,teeth movement and sensitivity


  • Good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing at least twice a day can help prevent gum infections, cavities, and tooth loss
  • Rinse or chew gum after meals. In addition to brushing and flossing, rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial rinse can help prevent decay and gum problems
  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco stains teeth and significantly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer.Dental disease is one of the many diseases caused by smoking
  • Avoid sticky sweets like soft candies, toffees and pastries. If you eat sweets, rinse your mouth with water afterward or clean your mouth properly


1)Scaling and root planing:A deep-cleaning procedure called as scaling and root planning can be done by your dentist to scrap away(scaling) plaque and tartar present above and below the gum line and to smooth rough spots on the tooth root(planing) and helps removing bacteria from the teeth.
2)Flap Surgery:This is a surgical procedure where a periodontist removes tartar from deep pockets,reduces the size of the space between the gum and the tooth thereby decreasing space where harmful bacteria grows.This procedure involves lifting back the gums and removing the tartar.The gums are then placed so that the tissue fits around the tooth.
3)Bone Grafting:This procedure is performed when the bone that gives stability to tooth has been destroyed.A fragment of your own bone or donated bone will be placed to give stability to the tooth.
4)Soft tissue grafts:This procedure involves relocation of grafted tissue from the roof of the mouth to the thin gum line or affected area.
5)Guided tissue regeneration:Another procedure which is performed when the bone that gives stability to tooth has been destroyed.This promotes regrowth of bone and gum tissue through a fabric being placed between the bone and tooth.Through this it stimulates the bone and connective tissue to regrow.
Many medications like antiseptic chip,antibiotic gel,antimicrobial mouth rinse,antibiotic micro spheres,enzyme suppressant,oral antibiotics are available to control bacteria and reduce the size of periodontal pockets.These medications are available in the form of gel,mouth washers and tablets.

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