Gum Disease

Gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. If left, this plaque builds up on and between the teeth irritating gums and making them swollen. When this swelling happens, it can allow a space or ‘pocket’ to form around the tooth. As the amount of bacterial plaque increases, so does the depth of the pocket. This causes gums to recede, exposing more of the tooth. If left untreated, the pocket can become so large that teeth may loosen and even need to be removed.

The are two stages of Gum Disease


Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. It occurs when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when brushed. If left untreated, long-standing gingivitis can develop into severe gingivitis or periodontitis.


Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where bacterial plaque destroys the gums, soft tissue and eventually the bone anchoring the tooth, making the tooth loose. If left untreated, the tooth may eventually fall out or need to be removed.

Early diagnosis and treatment of young, susceptible people is very important, otherwise teeth may loosen early in life, and may be lost as early as the thirties and forties.

Our specialist periodontist is very successful in stabilising the condition and preventing further bone loss. Periodontal therapy does require good co-operation between patient and therapist and the condition requires long term management.

What Causes it?

All gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and cleaning in between the teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss.

Smoking can also make gum disease worse, as people who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums don’t heal. Smoking causes people to have more plaque and the gum disease to get worse more quickly than in non-smokers. Gum disease is still a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

Treatment Options

Our specialist periodontist Mary Gibson is highly regarded in the area and is very successful in stabilising and treating periodontal disease.

We often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. If you are concerned you might have gum disease, we will perform a thorough check-up of your teeth and gums. We will measure the ‘cuff’ of gum around each tooth to see if there is any sign of periodontal disease. X-rays may also be needed to see the amount of bone that has been lost. We will then suggest the best treatment for you.

We offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). You will also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This whole process may take a number of sessions.

We can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures.