Gum disease (periodontal disease)

Gum disease is the fifth most common health problem in Australia. It can be prevented.

Types of gum disease

There are two main types of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis – early-stage gum disease affecting the surface layers of the gum
  • Periodontitis – more advanced gum disease affecting the deeper layers of gums, teeth and bone

How it happens

When plaque builds up on the gum line, it makes the perfect conditions for the type of bacteria that causes gum disease.

The gum becomes inflamed and may look red and swollen around the tooth.

If not treated, the inflammation can destroy the tissue fibres and bone that hold teeth in place, leading to tooth loss.

See an oral health professional if you suspect gum disease. Early treatment can save teeth at risk!

What can you do?

If you support someone to care for their mouth:

Look out for the signs of gum disease Reduce risk by providing support to
Gum disease (gingivitis)
Bright red gums that bleed easily when touched or brushed
Brush teeth and along the gum line twice a day to remove plaque
Bad breath Drink tap water
Maybe little or no pain Ask if any medications they take reduce saliva (dry mouth); discuss with an oral health professional
Severe gum disease (periodontitis)
Gums appear to ‘shrink’ away from the teeth
Have regular dental check-ups
Loose teeth, Sensitive teeth or Bad breath Quit smoking

Keep brushing!
When gums are swollen or bleed a little bit, you might think that it’s best to stop brushing. In fact the opposite is true. If you support someone with their daily mouth care, encourage them to keep brushing. This will get rid of the plaque that is causing the problem. Soon the gums should look and feel better. If not, see an oral health professional.