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Gum Disease

Gum disease

Red, swollen gingiva seen in early periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that can result in redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums (gingiva). The condition is often painless, but if left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to the loss of tooth-supporting bone and eventually to the loss of your teeth. Periodontal disease has also been associated with systemic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease — and may even contribute to some preterm births.

Treatment for periodontal disease generally begins with a thorough examination and deep cleaning (debridement/root planing) performed by the general dentist, periodontist or dental hygienist. Further treatment and/or referral to another specialist may be needed depending on how the patient's gums respond to this initial therapy.

Tips for Healthy Gums

The American Dental Association recommends that you:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to target your gum line, not just your teeth. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are starting to look worn.
  • Floss your teeth daily in order to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
  • Consider using an antimicrobial mouth rinse, which will help reduce the bacteria that contributes to gum disease.