You may think you’ll never suffer from a ‘disease’ of the mouth, but don’t let the name fool you, gum disease is extremely common and can happen at any age. It starts with the build up of plaque on and in between the teeth and can escalate quickly from there. Plaque is a mixture of food and bacteria that accumulates on your teeth after eating and if not removed by brushing, plaque starts to irritate and inflame the gums (known as gingivitis). When gingivitis is left untreated, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. This starts to leave a tiny 'pocket' at the base of the tooth that becomes increasingly difficult to brush properly.
Any plaque that can’t be removed then slowly starts to harden to something called tartar. If this tartar continues to build up, then further irritation and inflammation around the gum occurs – and this could lead to gum disease.
As tartar builds, the inflammation it causes slowly begins to affect the bones around the teeth, until some of the tooth root may become visible. Dentists call this chronic periodontitis and it causes the teeth to loosen to the point where they may fall out or need to be taken out by a dentist.
Many people with gum disease are unaware they have a problem because it's often 'silent' with no pain or symptoms. However there are a few things you might notice which could indicate early stages of gum disease:
More advanced gum disease can lead to loosening of the teeth or even abscesses in the gum.
Although anyone can get gum disease, it's more likely in people who don't clean their teeth regularly or those who find it difficult to clean their teeth properly. Braces, dentures and irregularities in tooth shape or spacing can all make it difficult to reach an area with a toothbrush.
Other factors that may lead to gum disease are:
Your dentist may recommend using:
© Johnson & Johnson Limited, 2012
This site is best viewed with the following web browsers: Internet Explorer Version 7, Firefox Version 2.0 and Safari.
This site is published by Johnson & Johnson Limited which is solely responsible for its contents. It is intended for a UK audience.
Site last updated on: 27/02/2013