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What is gum disease?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth


Gums are made of soft tissue. They surround the bottom portion of your teeth (called tooth root).


Gum disease is an infection of the gums. It's caused by plaque, a sticky film that collects on teeth and gums. Plaque makes acids and toxins that can make gums red, puffy or bleed.

Over time, gum disease can cause gums to pull away from the teeth. This can form pockets between the teeth and gums. Germs can become trapped in these pockets, causing the bone around the teeth to become weak.


Gum disease is not uncommon. Many people have an early form of gum disease, which can be treated with good oral care. But if you ignore gum disease, it can weaken the bone around the teeth, causing teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.


Many people don't know they have gum disease. This is why it is so important to see your Metro dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.


Here are some signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that are red or puffy or bleed when you brush or floss: These are early forms of gum disease. They can usually be treated by good oral care.

  • Tooth pain or sensitivity: Gums that have pulled away from the teeth can make teeth sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Adult teeth that are loose or develop gaps; changes in the way your teeth fit when you bit down: This is the most serious form of gum disease, called periodontitis.


Some factors increase the risk of developing gum disease. They are:


  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco

  • Genetics

  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean 

  • Pregnancy 

  • Diabetes 

  • Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives


Here are some tips to help prevent gum disease:

  • Brush teeth and gums. Floss between teeth: Pay special attention to your back teeth. They are likely to have more plaque on them because they are hard to reach

  • Change your toothbrush every 3 months: Bristles that are worn remove less plaque.

  • If your gums bleed, don't stop brushing and flossing: Use a toothbrush with soft bristles so you don't hurt your gums. See our dental team if the bleeding continues

  • Visit your Metro Dental dentist regularly for teeth cleanings and checkups: Tell your dentist if you are pregnant or have diabetes. These conditions make it harder for the body to fight gum disease.

  • Check your gums in the mirror often: Look for changes in colour or texture. If you think you have gum disease, see your Metro Dental dentist as soon as possible.

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