What are the Types of Gum Disease?


Gum disease is a common problem and while it can be treated easily, the symptoms of gum disease can be painful. Untreated gum disease, otherwise referred to as gingivitis, can advance to periodontitis and can eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems. In this post we describe the factors that lead to gum disease, the symptoms of gum disease and treatment options. There are two primary types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gum Disease: Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. It is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, although other factors that may contribute to its development include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Systemic diseases and conditions
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Puberty
  • Hormonal Fluctuaions
  • Pregnancy
  • Substance abuse
  • HIV infection
  • Certain medication use.

The symptoms of gingivitis include inflammation of the gums that over time become red, swollen and may bleed easily. Bleeding gums that occur when brushing the teeth are often a sign that gingivitis may be present.

The Treatment of gingivitis often involves a thorough scale and clean treatment to remove plaque, tartar and bacterial products, which will allow the gums to heal. Good Oral Hygiene and additional help from mouthwash such as Listerine rinse may also be recommended. 

Gum Disease: Periodontitis

Gingivitis can advance to periodontitis if it is left untreated. Over time, plaque and tartar can buildup and grow above and beneath the gum line. It is very difficult to remove the tartar by yourself at home and you may need to see a dentist to clean it off. Bacteria LOVES to attach the tartar/calculus and they will start to produce toxic compounds. Toxic compounds produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and produce a chronic inflammatory response. The body tissues affected by such toxins turns their immune response into overdrive and turn on themselves leading to bone destruction. Gums will separate from teeth and pockets between the gums and teeth will develop and can easily become infected.

As periodontitis progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Aside from inflamed gums, this process often has unnoticeable side effects and will continue to develop until teeth become loose and require removal. Periodontitis can be aggressive, chronic, a manifestation of systemic disease like heart disease, respiratory disease and diabetes or necrotizing.

The goal of periodontitis treatment is to thoroughly clean areas around the teeth and prevent damage to surrounding bone. Antibiotics are sometimes recommended for selected cases. If the condition is advanced, then surgical options may need to be considered. Flap surgery involves lifting the surface gum tissue and cleaning (scaling) underneath. Gum grafts may be needed if the gum tissue has rotted away. Bone grafting is necessary when periodontitis has destroyed bone surround the tooth root. Guided tissue regeneration is one treatment that uses a special material to prevent bacteria entering the affected area while it heals and sometimes tissue-stimulating proteins will be applied to the affected area in the form of a gel. A lot of the time, treatment by an specialist periodontist is necessary for advanced surgical treatment of periodontitis.

The best solution to preventing gingivitis and periodontitis is to have regular check-ups/scale and cleans (two times a year) and to have good oral health habits of brush and floss your teeth regularly. Cessation of tobacco products is also strongly recommended.

Contact Central Brunswick Dental

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of one of the two types of gum disease mentioned above, please contact our clinic in Fortitude Valley to make an appointment with one of our professional dentists. We are open for appointment Monday to Thursday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Call our friendly reception team on 07 3216 1100 to book your appointment today.