What is gum disease?

It is estimated that in the UK, between 50 and 90% of all adults will have some form of gum disease during their lifetime. However if gum disease is not treated correctly, it can develop into more complicated, and more painful, conditions. Find out how to treat and recognise gum disease here.

Symptoms of gum disease

Gum disease manifests itself as red and inflamed gums, or bleeding when you brush your teeth. Early symptoms include tender gums and sensitive spots while brushing or flossing.

Inflammation of the gums can involve redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a feeling of heat in the area. It is the body's response to infection, irritation or injury.

What causes gum disease?

The most common cause of gum disease is a build up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that is made of bacteria, and is usually removed by brushing your teeth. If the plaque builds up (for example in between teeth or in an area that you can't easily reach with your toothbrush), it can irritate the gums and cause them to swell.

How can gum disease be prevented?

Most cases of gum disease will heal on their own with a good routine of oral hygiene. This involves thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day (in the morning and last thing at night), and flossing at least three times a week.

If your gum problems don't subside within ten days, contact your dentist for advice. If left untreated, common gum disease can develop into more complicated problems.


Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease than the common type (gingivitis). The inflammation can affects the gum can also affect the tooth socket, causing teeth to feel loose and sometimes fall out.

Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG)

ANUG, also known as trench mouth, is a painful bacterial infection that can cause swelling and ulcers to develop.

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