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A Guide to Gum Disease

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (also known as periodontitis or gingivitis) is an extremely common ailment that is often caused by the build-up of plaque. Gum disease can cause serious problems for the teeth and eventually lead to the spread of infection and tooth loss. Statistics suggest that around 50 to 90 percent of the population suffer from gum disease.

What are the symptoms?

If oral health is maintained to a high standard, gums will be pink and firm while keeping the teeth anchored securely in place. Additionally, they should not hurt or bleed when they are touched.

Gum disease is not usually painful, however, sufferers may notice swelling and redness of the tissue, as well as bleeding after brushing or flossing. As the issue develops into periodontitis other tell-tale signs could include:

  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums that make more of the tooth visible
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Sensitive teeth after the consumption of hot and cold foods
  • Pus coming from the gums
  • Loose teeth, which can make eating a more difficult task
  • Pearly whites falling out of the socket
  • Abscesses

Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?

Although it is unpleasant, gum disease is often unavoidable, and the majority of people will fall victim to the condition at some point in their lives, particularly if they neglect their oral health.

What are the causes?

The most common cause is a lack of oral hygiene which results in plaque buildup. This soft, sticky substance is formed when bacteria collects on the surface of the teeth and can result in long-term issues if left untreated.

Although the substance can easily be removed through brushing the teeth twice every day and flossing up to three times every week, it can harden and create tartar. Tartar sticks much more firmly to the teeth and can usually only be removed by a dental professional or hygienist.

There are also a number of risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing the condition. These include smoking, diabetes, and a weakened immune system (usually due to an illness such as HIV, AIDs, or through chemotherapy treatment).

How is gum disease diagnosed?

Patients who have noticed they are displaying some of the symptoms of this condition should book an appointment with one of our dentists, hygienist or Periodontist (specialist in gum treatment) as soon as possible.

Those who are suffering from periodontitis are likely to require a full dental examination using a special probe. This tool is placed inside the mouth, underneath the gum line, and allows the gum specialist to determine how dramatically the symptoms have progressed.

X-rays may also be taken to monitor the condition of the teeth and jaw bone. This course of action uses radiation to take images of the bones to highlight any abnormalities within the teeth.

How is gum disease treated?

Scale and polish

This is a type of professional clean that is usually carried out by a trained hygienist. The procedure includes scraping away plaque and tartar with a special instrument. Severe cases may require more than one treatment.

Root planning

Often, this is required to clean bacteria from the roots of the teeth. Patients may need anaesthetic to numb the area effectively before the treatment begins.

Additional treatment – Patients with more severe cases of gum disease or periodontitis may need surgery to remove the affected tooth.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Just a few simple steps could result in individuals maintaining their oral health and perfect smile well into the future.

An efficient hygiene routine includes:

  • Brushing pearly whites for between two and three minutes twice every day
  • Using a toothpaste that includes fluoride to protect against decay
  • Flossing teeth at least three times every week, or more if achievable
  • Abstaining from unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and consuming excessive levels of alcohol
  • Visiting a Pearl Dental Clinic practitioner on a regular basis


Pearl Dental Clinic is open 7 days a week from 9am to 10pm. You can book an appointment by calling us on 0203 750 5300 or emailing us or booking an appointment online


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