Screening for gum disease forms an integral part of your routine examination and since three quarters of all teeth are lost through gum disease, it's easy to see why it's so important. Gum disease is the swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth.
There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen and often bleed when brushed. Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is an almost invisible film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day.
Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from each and every one of your teeth every single day by regular brushing and flossing.
Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole so that you do notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. If left untreated this can lead to gum abscesses, and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost.