If your gums are healthy, they should be pink and firm and there should be no bleeding from them. If you have early gum disease you may find that your gums become red and swollen and they may bleed after you brush or floss your teeth. This condition is called gingivitis (early stage gum disease). Gum disease doesn’t always cause pain so it is really important to attend your dental check-ups, so your dental professional can spot any potential problems early on.
What causes gum disease?
The most common cause is a sticky coating of plaque either round or in between your teeth. If you are not brushing your teeth thoroughly and interdental cleaning regularly the bacteria in plaque irritates your gums, making them swollen, red and sore. The bacteria within plaque can also cause tooth decay. Other factors that can lead to gum disease include:
- Poor diet
- Family history of gum disease
- Weakened immune system
- There is also a strong link between gum disease and heart problems
It is important to follow healthy lifestyle advice to reduce your risk of general health problems and visit your GP for any stop smoking advice.
What happens if I have gum disease?
If you have the beginning stages of gum disease and it is not treated, it can start to affect the tissues that hold your teeth in place. This is called periodontitis or periodontal disease. Symptoms of this can be bad breath, a nasty taste in your mouth and even loose teeth. At an advanced stage, swellings can occur under your teeth. When gum disease is present dental treatment may be recommended by your dental professional to treat your gums. This treatment will include tailored oral hygiene advice and in some cases deep gum cleaning may be required to help slow down progression of the disease.