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Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones that support your teeth. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed when brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to the more serious stage of periodontitis, which can lead to bone loss, tooth loss, and even systemic health problems. Good oral health starts with healthy gums. Unfortunately, many people suffer from gum disease at some stage in their life, which can lead to a host of other dental health problems. 


Your oral health is important, and it is essential to be informed about the various gum diseases that can affect it. Gum disease can range from simple gum inflammation to more severe conditions that can lead to tooth loss and even impact your overall health. The condition causes swollen gums and may cause pain and lead to eventual tooth loss. Don’t let gum disease ruin your oral health. Book an appointment for a dental check-up or professional teeth cleaning at Woodbourne Dental, and let our experienced dentists and dental hygienist help you prevent and treat gum disease.

The Different Stages of Gum Disease

​There are three commonly known stages to gum disease. Without regular inspection of your oral health by a dental practitioner, gum disease may go undetected until it leads to serious oral health issues.

  1. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the tissue that surround your teeth. It is caused by a build-up of plaque, a substance caused by bacteria. If not cleaned, it can cause your gums to become inflamed. Plaque can build up despite regular brushing, which is why it is important to visit your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning every six months. The main symptoms of gingivitis are: bleeding after cleaning or flossing your teeth, occasional cases of bad breath (halitosis), and red or swollen gums. 

  2. Periodontitis – If left untreated gingivitis evolves into periodontitis, which can affect the bones and ligaments that support your teeth. Your gums may begin to pull away from your teeth, leaving pockets. These pockets can trap plaque that becomes unreachable with a toothbrush. Untreated periodontitis can cause your gums to shrink back and may lead to tooth loss. Symptoms include bad breath (halitosis), gum recession, sensitive teeth, a wobbly tooth, bad taste in your mouth, and potentially painful gum abscesses. 

  3. Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG) is a bacterial infection that causes swelling, ulcers, bad breath, and pain. It must be treated by a dentist immediately. The symptoms include painful ulcers that bleed easily, bad breath, metallic taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing or talking, having a lot of saliva in your mouth, and a person may also have a high temperature and feel unwell. 

Risk Factors That Can Contribute to Gum Disease

  • ​Smoking.

  • Diabetes – People with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing infections.

  • Hormonal changes in girls/women.

  • Other illnesses and their treatments.

  • Medications.


The best way to prevent gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene. This means brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for regular dental exams and cleanings. It’s also important to limit sugary and starchy foods, which can lead to plaque build-up. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also increase the risk of gum disease, so it’s important to quit if you’re a smoker or chew tobacco. The following risk factors can contribute to or make you more likely to contract gum disease: 

  • ​Smoking;

  • Diabetes, which puts you at a higher risk for developing infections;

  • Hormonal changes;

  • Other illnesses and their medicinal treatments; and

  • A history of gum disease in your family.


If you’re diagnosed with gum disease, it’s important to seek treatment from an experienced dentist as soon as possible. Treatment options may include deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), antibiotics, and in advanced cases, gum surgery. In some cases, gum disease can be reversed with proper treatment and care. However, even if your gum disease can’t be fully reversed, it can still be managed to help prevent further damage and improve your overall oral health. It’s important to note that gum disease is a chronic condition, so patients must continue with regular dental exams and cleanings, and maintain good oral hygiene to help prevent it from reoccurring.

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