Gum disease occurs when plaque, which is a sticky layer of germ build-up on teeth, causes irritation and bleeding of the gums. Symptoms of gum disease include inflammation, redness, bleeding, bad breath and sponginess of the gums.
There are 2 main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease caused by plaque irritation. It occurs when the gums become red and swollen. They may also bleed easily when they are brushed. Bad breath is another sign of gum disease. Gingivitis can be cured without permanent damage.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can lead to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis may cause the gum tissue near teeth to weaken, leading to gaps forming between the gum and teeth. These gaps can trap germs and cause more swelling and infection, threatening the health of the adjacent teeth. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with proper oral hygiene practices.
You can help reduce the risk of gum disease by visiting your dentist regularly and by cleaning your teeth well.