How do I know if I’ve got gum disease?

Most people will have gum disease at some point in their life

Causes of gum disease

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth and the gum line. Plaque is a sticky, transparent film that contains bacteria and forms on the teeth, between the teeth and both above and below the gum line.

Plaque is constantly formed by the bacteria that live in our mouths when they feed on the sugars in the foods and drinks we consume. Our immune system tries to get rid of plaque with an inflammatory response which is seen as redness and swelling of the gum around the tooth.

Stages of gum disease

There are two main stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis


Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It affects the surface layer of the gum and at this stage there is no damage to the deeper parts of the gum, the surrounding teeth or bone.

Signs of gingivitis:

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or eating
  • Redness and swelling of the gums
  • Bad breath

Thankfully, gingivitis can be reversed. Some patients think it’s best to stop brushing if your gums are red or puffy but keep brushing! This will get rid of the bacteria and plaque that is causing the problem and in no time the gums should look and feel better. If not, come in and see us at our Capalaba or Victoria Point clinics.


Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease and occurs when gingivitis is not treated. Periodontitis affects the covering of the tooth root (cementum), the jaw bone and the fibres that connect the tooth root to the bone (periodontal ligament).

When the gum is weakened by gum disease some spaces can form between the tooth root and the gum called ‘periodontal pockets’. Bacteria can get trapped in these pockets and over time the bone is damaged and lost and larger spaces form between the tooth and gum.

If periodontitis isn’t treated, the structures that hold the tooth into the gum can become damaged that teeth become loose and may need to be removed.

Signs of periodontitis:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums (the gum line shrinks making teeth look longer)
  • Tenderness when biting or chewing
  • Loose teeth

If you or someone you know is suffering with any of these problems, contact Redlands Gentle Dental today to book an appointment.


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