Gum Disease:

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Table of Contents

  • Overview of Gum Disease
  • Symptoms of Gum Disease
  • Causes of Gum Disease
  • Stages of Gum Disease
  • Risk Factors of Gum Disease
  • Prevention of Gum Disease
  • Complications of Gum Disease
  • Periodontitis vs. Gingivitis
  • Can Periodontitis be Cured?
  • Treatment Options for Gum Disease
  •   a. Treatment at a Clinic
  •   b. Treatment at Home
  • How Long Can You Keep Your Teeth with Periodontal Disease?

Overview of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious oral health issue that affects the soft tissues surrounding the teeth. It is also known as periodontitis, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. The disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth, which form plaque on the teeth. The plaque can irritate the gums, causing them to become inflamed and bleed.


    The symptoms of gum disease include:
    • Red, swollen, or tender gums
    • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
    • Receding gums
    • Loose teeth
    • Persistent bad breath
    • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite


    The main cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque and tartar to build up on the teeth and gums. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing gum disease include:

    • Smoking or using tobacco products
    • Hormonal changes in women (such as during pregnancy or menopause)
    • Certain medical conditions (such as diabetes or HIV)
    • Genetics
    • Poor nutrition

    Stages of Gum Disease

    There are four stages of gum disease, each with different symptoms and severity:

    1. Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease, and is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
    2. Early Periodontitis: In this stage, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and form pockets that can trap plaque and bacteria.
    3. Moderate Periodontitis: In this stage, the pockets between the gums and teeth deepen, causing more damage to the surrounding tissues and bones.
    4. Advanced Periodontitis: This is the most severe stage of gum disease, and can result in significant tissue and bone loss, as well as tooth loss.

    Risk Factors of Gum Disease

    There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease, including:

    • Poor oral hygiene
    • Tobacco use
    • Hormonal changes
    • Certain medical conditions
    • Genetics
    • Poor nutrition
    • Stress

    Prevention of Gum Disease

    To prevent gum disease, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. Additionally, avoiding tobacco use and managing medical conditions (such as diabetes) can also help reduce your risk of gum disease.

    Complications of Gum Disease

    If left untreated, gum disease can lead to several complications, including:

    • Tooth loss
    • Bone loss
    • Receding gums
    • Chronic bad breath
    • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
    • Complications during pregnancy

    Periodontitis vs Gingivitis

    Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria on the gum line. On the other hand, periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. The main difference between the two is that gingivitis only affects the gums, while periodontitis affects both the gums and the underlying jawbone.

    Can Periodontitis be Cured?

    While periodontitis cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with proper treatment and ongoing dental care. In its early stages, periodontitis can be reversed, but in advanced cases, treatment will focus on controlling the progression of the disease and preventing further damage to the teeth and gums.

    Treatment Options for Gum Disease

    1. Treatment at a Clinic

    Treatment for periodontitis typically involves a deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing, which removes plaque and tartar buildup from the gum line and roots of the teeth. In some cases, surgery may also be required to restore damaged tissue and prevent further progression of the disease.

    1. Treatment at Home

    In addition to visiting a dentist, there are several steps you can take at home to help manage and prevent gum disease:

    • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
    • Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth
    • Use mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath
    • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
    • Eat a balanced diet and limit sugary snacks

    How Long Can You Keep Your Teeth with Periodontal Disease?

    With proper treatment and ongoing dental care, it is possible to keep your teeth even with periodontal disease. However, the severity of the disease and the stage at which it is detected will greatly impact the outcome. In advanced cases, teeth may need to be removed. Regular dental check-ups are important to catch and treat gum disease in its early stages, helping to prevent further damage and maintain a healthy smile.


    woman in clinic for gum disease