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Gum Disease

Gum Disease - What it is

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It is one of the most wide-spread diseases in the world.

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and a poorer quality of life. Fortunately, gum disease is also preventable, and treatable if discovered early enough.

What causes gum disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria found in the sticky dental plaque which accumulates along the gum line. If plaque is not removed by correct toothbrushing and cleaning between the teeth, the gums start to pull away from the teeth, forming gum pockets. This allows plaque to grow downwards further beneath the gumline. Over time, the supporting bone around teeth gets destroyed. Finally, teeth start to loosen and drop out.

Plaque and tartar along the gum line


Who can get gum disease?

Most people can get a mild form of gum disease. Some people may be genetically more prone to more aggressive forms of gum disease.
In addition, certain factors put you at higher risk of getting severe gum disease:
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes (especially if poorly controlled)
  • Stress
  • Certain illnesses and medications which affect the body’s immune system

Gum Disease - Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

The early stages of periodontal disease may be pain-free and so patients may not be aware of any problems. Hence, it is recommended to have your dentist check for gum disease.
It is also good to be aware of the following “red-flags”: 
  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Shaky teeth
  • Teeth appearing to drift apart from their original positions
  • Persistent bad breath
 Red and swollen gums that have receded.jpg
Red and swollen gums that have receded
An upper front tooth that has drifted from its original position

Gum Disease - How to prevent?

What can I do to prevent gum disease?

Prevention is always better than cure. Generally, gum treatment cannot replace the support your teeth have already lost. You can do the following to prevent gum disease:

  • Brush and clean between your teeth twice daily
  • Visit your family dentist twice a year for a check-up and professional cleaning
  • Do not smoke
  • If you have diabetes, ensure that it is under control

Learn more about how to brush your teeth correctly here.

Gum Disease - Causes and Risk Factors

Gum Disease - Diagnosis

Gum Disease - Treatments

What is the treatment for gum disease?

The main goal of treatment is to reduce bacteria around your teeth and prevent the gum disease from getting worse.

You will be taught how to clean around your teeth and gums properly. Treatment for gum disease will only work if you are able to do this well.

Deep cleaning around the teeth, usually performed under local anaesthesia, will also be done by your dentist or dental hygienist. This helps to remove bacteria below the gum line. The number of visits required will depend on the extent and severity of the gum disease.

Patients with more severe gum disease may be advised to undergo gum surgeries. This is done only after initial rounds of deep cleaning have been carried out to reduce bacteria and inflammation, and after the patient is able to clean his/her teeth to a high standard. You can obtain more information on these procedures from the pamphlet on Periodontal Surgery.

Finally, after the gum disease has been brought under control, you will continue to be seen at regular intervals so that we can help you maintain this stability and monitor for any disease recurrence. When no further specialist care is required, you will be discharged back to your private dentist or the polyclinics to continue your routine check-ups there.

Gum Disease - Preparing for surgery

Gum Disease - Post-surgery care

Gum Disease - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth