01 Apr 2010 Blackmores Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) 26522 views 1 min to read Gum problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease are extremely common, and affect most people at some point in their lives, becoming more prevalent with age. Everyday health Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin 6 comments Symptoms Gingivitis is early stage gum disease, and involves a band of red, inflamed gingiva (gum tissue) around one or more teeth. The gums tend to be swollen and to bleed easily (for example, after brushing the teeth). In periodontitis, swelling and inflammation become more severe and the disease progresses to tissues below the gum margins, including the covering of the root of the tooth, the ligaments that connect the roots to the bone, and the bones themselves. In addition to swollen and bleeding gums, symptoms of periodontitis may include receding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and a bad taste in the mouth. The underlying bone is sometimes destroyed. Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Causes Gum disease is caused by an accumulation of plaque on the tooth surface at the junction between the tooth and the gum. The plaque hardens to form tartar, or calculus, on the teeth, and as it thickens, the gums start to recede, allowing pockets to form below the gum margin. As the condition progresses, the tissues below the gum margin become more susceptible to disease and destruction. In addition to poor dental hygiene, other factors that may contribute to the development of gingivitis and gum disease include: Improper brushing technique Poorly fitting fillings and dental prostheses Smoking, which significantly increases the risk of gum disease Chronic ill-health (e.g. gum disease may be a symptom of coeliac disease, HIV/AIDS or cancer) Genetic factors Hormonal changes (e.g. menopause, pregnancy and puberty) Stress Some prescribed medicines (including some heart drugs and antibiotics) Tooth grinding Diabetes (due to an increased risk of infection) Excessive consumption of sugar or alcohol Deficiency of key nutrients, including vitamins A, C and folic acid, and the minerals zinc, iron and calcium. Diet and lifestyle See your dentist if your teeth are loose or your gums are swollen or bleeding, as well as for regular check-ups and professional tooth cleaning. In some cases, the only treatment necessary is improved dental hygiene, but if infection or tissue destruction is present, antibiotics and specialist dental treatment may be required, sometimes including surgery. Brush your teeth after each meal or snack with a soft, small-headed toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the junction of the gum and the teeth – even at times when the gums are bleeding and sensitive. Use dental floss daily too. It helps prevent the build up of plaque. Mouthwash may also help to prevent plaque. Stop smoking. Important notes Gum disease can be associated with heart disease - make sure you have regular medical check-ups. Consult your dentist if your gums bleed easily or regularly, or if you experience symptoms that may indicate the presence of infection, such as fever or pain.