What is Gum Disease?

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and is caused by plaque building up on the teeth and gums. Plaque consists of bacteria that are normally found in the mouth, and is that sticky film you can sometimes feel over the surface of your teeth if they haven’t been brushed in a while. This bacterial infection irritates the gums, and the body tries to fight back through producing antibodies. The fight between the bacteria and antibodies causes the gums to become inflamed, and the inflammation can be extremely damaging.

If it isn’t treated, gum disease can destroy the gum tissue and other associated structures including the ligaments holding the teeth in the sockets, and the bone surrounding the sockets, leading to the teeth becoming loose. Early gum disease is called gingivitis, while advanced gum disease is called periodontal disease.


The early signs of gingivitis include bleeding gums when you brush or floss them, or that they look slightly red or puffy. Healthy gums do not bleed, but the good news is that by seeking help at this stage gingivitis can be relatively easily cured.

Booking an appointment with Midtown Dentistry will enable your dentist to fully evaluate your gums. In its early stages treatment simply involves having your teeth professionally scaled and polished. This helps to remove the bacterial infection, but must be combined with a better oral care regime at home.

It’s important to persist with brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, even if it initially makes your gums bleed. You should see the health of your gums improve in just a few weeks, and you’ll notice they gradually stop bleeding and become firmer to the touch..


If gingivitis isn’t treated early on then it can quickly turn into periodontal disease. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating deep pockets full of infection. Your teeth are likely to look longer due to gum recession, and they might even feel loose. Periodontal disease or periodontitis is more difficult to treat and treatments are likely to be more invasive. By this stage your gums are likely to need deep cleaning. This is where tartar is scraped away from the teeth and from just below the gum line. Any exposed to the roots are smoothed or planed as this helps to make it more difficult for the bacteria to stick to the surface. Your dentist might choose to treat the whole mouth at once, but sometimes they might treat one quadrant or quarter at a time, and you may need local anesthetic.

Periodontitis is very destructive, and sometimes more extensive gum surgery is required. This might involve flap surgery, where the gums are folded back so they can be thoroughly cleaned out and sometimes this is combined with guided tissue regeneration, where special material is inserted between the bone and gum tissue to enable the area to heal more easily before the gums are secured back in position.


Gum disease can be tricky to treat, but is easily avoided through having regular professional cleanings and exams, and through practising great oral hygiene at home. This option will be far cheaper for you, and will help preserve your smile for longer.

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Call us at (713) 807-9877 or use the button below to Ask a Question or Schedule Your Appointment to have Dr. Jonathan Penchas or one of his expert staff examine your teeth.

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