What is Gum Disease?

Dental consultation between patient and dentist.

Gum disease is one of the most common dental problems for adults.

You may not notice gum disease forming in your mouth at first, as it can develop slowly and often without pain. You may not even notice any symptoms until it is serious and you are at risk of losing teeth.

This article by our dentists at Country Dental is written to help you understand the causes of gum disease, how to identify the signs, common treatment plans, and how to prevent diseases of the gums in the first place.

Remember, this type of disease can almost always be prevented, treated, and even reversed in its early stages.

What causes gum disease?

It usually occurs just below the edge of the gum where the gum attaches to the tooth.

At first, the disease starts with a clear and sticky paste called plaque that builds up on your teeth each day.

If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly and properly (see our post on Brushing Dos & Don’ts), plaque can harden into tartar (also referred to as calculus), which cannot be removed by brushing or flossing alone.

Tartar can cause an infection in the area where the gums attach to teeth, which is referred to as gingivitis in its early stages.

Over time, small pockets of infection form at the point of attachment between the gum and tooth. This can eventually break down the gum tissue that attaches to the tooth. Advanced gum disease can also cause the bone that holds teeth in place to break down.

If untreated, serious diseases of the gum can lead to teeth becoming loose and even falling out.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

It is important to look for early signs of gum disease when you brush and floss your teeth at home. The Canadian Dental Association lists the following symptoms to watch out for:

  • Change in color of gums
  • Gums that are red around the teeth
  • Gums that bleed every time you brush or floss
  • Bad breath that will not go away after brushing and flossing
  • Shiny, puffy, or sore gums
  • Sensitive Teeth to heat & cold for no reason

Symptoms of serious gum disease include lost bone and gum tissue, teeth becoming loose or unstable, and serious infection.

Treatments for Diseases of the Gum

A cure for gum disease will depend on how advanced your case is. There are several options our Cambridge dentists can discuss in detail with you, including:

Cleaning – For most early cases the best gum disease remedy is getting rid of the plaque and built-up tartar around your gums. At Country Dental, dental work involves dental cleaning (scaling) to remove any built-up tartar. At home, prevention includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day to prevent plaque from building up in the future.

Medications –There are a number of medications that are used to help with healing gum disease including antibiotic mouthwashes that disinfect the mouth and oral antibiotics to treat persistent gum inflammation.

Surgery – For serious gum disease treatment our Cambridge dentists are trained in early detection and can refer you to our in-house Periodontist, Dr. Ryan Schure, a dental specialist with additional training in restoring bone and gum tissue. Surgery may include bone and tissue grafts, flap surgery, and other procedures.

Early Prevention Tips

Annual dental exams are highly recommended as the first step in fighting gum disease along with having good hygiene habits such as:

  • Brushing your teeth 2 or 3 times a day
  • Flossing at least once a day
  • Visiting your local dentist for regular dental checkups and teeth cleaning

See our post on Oral Hygiene Tips.

Remember that gum disease is serious. If left untreated, it not only leads to teeth falling out, but can also be associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and lung disease.

If you think you notice early signs of gum disease contact our Country Dental office in Cambridge, Fergus or Toronto Ontario to make an appointment.

Toronto: 416-335-7377
Cambridge: 519-620-7474
Fergus: 519-787-7878

Tips for a Healthy Smile: