What is Gum disease and how does it relate to you?

The gum is the oral mucosa that covers the tooth bearing area.

Gum disease can expand to not only the mucosal area that covers the tooth bearing area, but also to all of the tooth supporting areas, including bone that is surrounding the roots.

In general there are two types of gum disease:

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Periodontitis

Is the most common form of gum disease, but is reversible. In gingivitis there is inflammation in the gum (infection in the mucosal area surrounding the teeth)

There can be several reasons for gingivitis. The main reason is plaque around and under the gums. Plaque is full of bacteria that can cause inflammation in the gum.

Gingivitis in its first stages can be treated with proper oral hygiene. Ten days of accurate brushing and flossing can treat early stage gingivitis.


Is an inflammatory disease of the tooth supporting tissues. This is caused by some destructive micro-organisms. One of the main causes for periodontitis is un-treated gingivitis.

What happens in periodontitis: untreated gingivitis means that there are lots of bacteria around the gum. They have not been cleaned and removed, hence, the infection will move to the bone surrounding the roots. Now there is infection in the bone. This infection will cause bone resorption. Bone loss will be continued if periodontitis is not treated. When the bone is resorbed, it will not come back with treatment but the resorption can be stopped.

Main treatment for periodontitis is scaling (cleaning professionally with your dentist or hygienist) to remove all the deposits and plaque around and under the gum.

Your dentist might decide to prescribe you a special mouth wash during the treatment. Also your dentist may advise you to get your cleaning done every 3 or 4 months until the condition is under control. If the periodontitis is under control, you need to keep your cleaning appointments for every 6 months.

You should know that when you have periodontitis, you need to get your cleaning done regularly and consistently.


After around 6 months, infection in your gum can move to the bone, and removing the source of infection every 6 months will lower the chance of periodontitis.

There are other causes for gingivitis and periodontitis which include hormonal changes, genetics, viral infections, immune system disease, smoking, some medications, malnutrition, fungal infections, systemic disease such as allergic reactions, and so on.

Last but not least, this article is providing general information for the public, but it is important to know that this is a broad and deep topic and that there is yet much to be covered about gingivitis and periodontitis.

Dr. Roushanak Shafaghi

25 Oct, 2019

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