A hidden problem

Gum disease is a very common condition, yet people are often unaware they have it. Early diagnosis can make a big difference, so it's important you recognise the signs and know what to do about them.

Spitting blood when brushing your teeth could be an early sign of gum disease.

Our Mouth Gallery can help you identify gum problems. If you do spot signs of gum disease, please visit your dentist.

Gum disease: The facts

  • 83% of people show signs of gum disease.
  • Gum disease, along with tooth decay, is a major cause of tooth loss.
  • Once your gum has receded, it won't grow back.
  • Likelihood of advanced gum disease can increase with age.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, on and in between, your teeth. If left unchecked, plaque…

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, on and in between, your teeth. If left unchecked, plaque will irritate the gums leading to redness and soreness. If allowed to continue, gum disease can cause serious problems. The gum may start to come away from the tooth, creating 'pockets' around it where even more plaque can grow. Over time, these pockets deepen, gums continue to recede and teeth can become loose.

There are two main forms of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis

    This is an inflammation of your gums. They will become red and swollen and may bleed when you brush. If left untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.

  • Periodontitis

    This is when the bacterial plaque destroys the gums, soft tissue and eventually the bones that hold your teeth, causing them to become loose.

    If periodontitis is not treated, your teeth may become loose and have to be removed or they may fall out on their own. In fact, gum disease is a main reason people lose their teeth. Once gum disease gets to this stage, it cannot be reversed but you can help to prevent it from getting any worse with the help of your dentist or hygienist and by improving the way you look after your teeth and gums.

    Become really gum smart – Spot the signs early to help prevent gum disease developing further, explore our symptom checker to help you to become really gum smart.

Ulcers

Although not specifically a gum disease, ulcers are a very common and painful complaint that can occur on your gums, as well as on your tongue, the inside of your lips and cheeks, or on the floor of your mouth. See our Mouth Gallery to identify which type you may have.

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Gum disease treatment

If you think you might be suffering from gum disease - what should you do?

If you think you might be suffering from gum disease - what should you do?

Visit your dentist

Tell them your symptoms and ask for their advice. Through a process known as 'scaling' they can often reduce the amount of plaque which will help to relieve gum irritation. They will also show you how to remove plaque effectively by yourself.

Use a treatment product containing chlorhexidine

Corsodyl gel, spray and treatment mouthwash ranges all contain chlorhexidine digluconate. This active ingredient is clinically proven to fight plaque.

If you don't have any of the symptoms of gum disease then you're lucky! To keep your gums in good condition it's important that you continue to take steps to protect them.

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Are you at risk?

Certain groups of people tend to have a greater chance of developing gum disease, and so need to take extra care…

Certain groups of people tend to have a greater chance of developing gum disease, and so need to take extra care.

  • Age

    Surveys indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease; therefore they need to do even more to maintain gum health. As we age our immune system becomes less efficient and decreased immunity can contribute to gum disease.

  • Diabetics

    When someone is suffering from diabetes, the blood vessel structure is altered. This may cause a reduction in the efficiency of the blood flow, which in turn may weaken the gums and bone, leaving them more prone to infections.

  • Smokers

    The gums of smokers are more susceptible to infection because smoking and the use of tobacco causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, reducing the flow of blood and nutrients to the gum tissues. This weakens the body's defence mechanisms, making the gums more susceptible to infection.

  • People who suffer from stress

    Stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight gum disease and may also cause people to engage in habits that can lead to gum disease such as smoking and forgetting to clean teeth properly.

  • Partial denture wearers

    If you have dentures you need to ensure that you clean your remaining natural teeth and your denture thoroughly. The surface material of your denture, combined with the warmth of your mouth, can be an ideal environment for plaque bacteria to grow. Research shows that removable partial dentures can cause an increase in the accumulation of plaque bacteria on the remaining teeth which could lead to gum disease.

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