Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a chronic inflammation of the gums and supporting structure of the teeth – the periodontal ligament and bone. There are two types of gum disease, these are gingivitis and periodontitis.






Gingivitis is the most common type of periodontal disease, and is found in a large percentage (as much as 90%) of the population. It is chronic inflammation of the gums which happens when brushing and flossing is inadequate and there is accumulation of plaque, food debris and calculus along the gum line. This leads to:

  • red swollen gums
  • bad breath
  • bleeding when brushing and flossing.

At this stage the inflammation is reversible with good oral hygiene and removal of hardened plaque by your dentist or hygienist. Brush the teeth with a soft toothbrush twice daily using small circles at 45 degrees along the gum line. Timing the brushing for two minutes ensures adequate time for cleaning. Floss once a day. The inflammation should resolve within two weeks with good oral hygiene and the bleeding will stop.





If left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. This is when the inflammation has spread to include the ligaments and bone supporting the tooth. The gums and bone slowly wear down and are lost. This results in the teeth appearing longer as more of the root is exposed.

You may notice:

  • red swollen gums
  • bad breath
  • bleeding when brushing and flossing
  • gums that have receded away from the teeth, making them look longer
  • loose teeth
  • gum abscesses.

At this stage we are unable to reverse the damage. This means that the gums and bone will not grow back to their original level, but we can attempt to halt to progression with a comprehensive course of deep cleaning and improved home hygiene practices. It is essential to attend your dentist regularly so that these diseases can be identified before they get to an advanced stage with irreversible bone loss.

The risk factors for periodontal disease include:

  • family history – you are more at risk if your parents experienced periodontal disease
  • plaque/calculus – by removing plaque and calculus and by teaching you to minimise the build-up we can reduce this as a risk factor
  • smoking – cigarette smoking is a known risk factor
  • diabetes.

If your bone damage is significant and the periodontal pockets (spaces between gums and teeth) deepen we may recommend a referral to a specialist called a periodontist. To provide further care such as minor surgery.