You are currently viewing Gum disease
Dental problems. Man checking his teeth and looking disturbed

Gum disease

Gum disease is known as periodontal disease. It is a significant health concern that affects the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gums and bone. Moreover, it’s a major issue in Australia, as highlighted by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), and is now being recognized for its connections to systemic health challenges such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory ailments12.

Definition and Stages

Gum disease is classified into two main stages. Gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums, and periodontitis. Also, the more advanced stage affecting the bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. Gingivitis is commonly characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, where the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets, which can become infected3.


The primary cause of gum disease is plaque. It is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth. If plaque is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which is more difficult to clean and can lead to inflammation and gum disease4.

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of developing gum disease, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • Pregnancy, due to changes in hormones​5
  • Diabetes​6
  • Medications that reduce the flow of saliva
  • Certain illnesses and their treatments

Treatment and Management

Treatment for gum disease depends on the stage of the disease. Also, it may range from non-surgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues. A deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) is often the first step. Furthermore, removing plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Advanced cases may require surgical procedures such as flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts7.

The Australian Perspective

Australian dental professionals are moving towards “precision periodontics,”.  This acknowledges that like other chronic inflammatory diseases, some people are more susceptible to gum disease than others. This approach looks at individual risk markers and creates more personalized treatment plans, rather than a one-size-fits-all regimen2.

However, despite the severe implications of periodontal disease and its high prevalence, it is one of the least funded areas in health research in Australia, a concern that the ADA has raised, emphasizing the need for better funding and increased advocacy2.

The Connection with Systemic Diseases

The ADA has noted that periodontal disease is linked to a range of systemic diseases due to the chronic inflammation it causes. This inflammation is not only localised to the mouth but also contributes to the overall inflammatory burden of the body. This is implicated in several chronic diseases2. For instance, severe gum disease is considered a significant complication for diabetes, affecting blood sugar control and exacerbating diabetic complications8. There’s also evidence suggesting a link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease9.

Preventive Measures

Prevention remains the best approach to managing this disease, which includes:

  • Brushing teeth twice daily
  • Flossing daily
  • Regular dental check-ups
  • Maintaining a balanced diet
  • Avoiding tobacco use

The ADA strongly advocates for maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental visits to prevent  this disease and its complications10.

In summary, gum disease is a complex condition with significant implications for both oral and systemic health. The Australian Dental Association is at the forefront of advocating for more resources. Also, research to tackle this disease, emphasizing prevention, early detection, and tailored treatments to manage this prevalent condition.


At The Cosmetic Dental Spa in Hurstville, we uphold the highest standards of patient care, creating an experience that embodies both comfort and excellence in dental health services. Our clinic is a sanctuary where advanced periodontal treatments are administered with precision and care, ensuring every patient achieves optimum oral health. We are ideally situated for those living in Hurstville and its environs, inviting residents from Beverly Hills, Kingsgrove, Bexley, Penshurst, Carlton, Allawah, Beverley Park, Blakehurst, Carss Park, Connells Point, Kogarah, Kogarah Bay, Lugarno, Mortdale, Oatley, and beyond to experience dental care at its finest. Our commitment to oral health is unwavering, with a focus on providing personalised periodontal care tailored to the unique needs of each individual, ensuring that the health foundation of their smile is as strong as it is aesthetically pleasing.

In the dynamic landscape of Hurstville and its neighbouring suburbs, The Cosmetic Dental Spa stands as a pillar of complete dental wellness. We cater to every dental requirement, from routine check-ups and cleans to emergency dental services, with the ability to provide same-day ceramic restorations thanks to our state-of-the-art CEREC technology. Our comprehensive services extend to root canal treatments, wisdom tooth extractions, the crafting of veneers, crowns, and implants, as well as offering periodontics, children’s dentistry, and aligners for orthodontic correction. Equipped with in-house X-ray machines, we ensure a prompt and effective diagnosis and treatment process. Every aspect of our practice is designed to make your visit efficient, thorough, and as comfortable as possible.

Our philosophy at The Cosmetic Dental Spa is underpinned by the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality dental care. We are dedicated to offering a wide spectrum of dental services that cater to the diverse needs of our patients. From preventive care to the artistry of cosmetic dentistry and the meticulous execution of complex dental procedures, our team at The Cosmetic Dental Spa is unwavering in their commitment to dental excellence. This dedication is evident in our gentle approach and the meticulous attention to detail we apply in every treatment, ensuring that each and every patient departs with a smile that is both stunning in appearance and exceptional in health.

Frequently Ask Question

This disease is known as periodontal disease. It encompasses a range of conditions that affect the tissues surrounding the teeth. It begins with inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and can progress to affect the bone supporting the teeth (periodontitis). If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to other systemic health issues.

This disease is quite prevalent in Australia. This affecting a significant portion of adults. The Australian Dental Association has highlighted that about one in four Australian adults have periodontal disease with symptoms like periodontal pockets of 4mm or deeper, indicating a widespread issue that requires attention and proper oral healthcare practices.

The primary cause of this disease is plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to inflammation of the gum tissues. Other contributing factors include poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetic predisposition, and certain medical conditions.

Yes, there are primarily two stages of this disease:

  • Gingivitis: The initial, mild stage where gums might be red, swollen, and bleed easily. This is reversible with good oral hygiene and professional dental care.
  • Periodontitis: The advanced stage where the gums and bone that support the teeth become seriously damaged. Teeth may become loose, fall out, or require removal by a dentist.

Gum disease is not just an oral health issue; it has been associated with systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The inflammation that characterizes gum disease can contribute to the progression and severity of these conditions.

Symptoms of gingivitis include redness and swelling of the gums, bleeding during brushing or flossing, bad breath, and a bad taste in the mouth. Some individuals may experience tenderness or discomfort in the gums as well.

Periodontitis is a more severe form of this disease that develops if gingivitis is not treated. It affects the bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place. Periodontitis can cause gums to pull away from the teeth, form pockets that become infected, and lead to tooth loss.

Plaque is the main culprit in gum disease. It’s filled with bacteria that produce toxins, which can irritate and inflame the gums. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar, exacerbating gum irritation and leading to the progression of gum disease.

Signs of this disease include persistent bad breath, red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and receding gums or longer appearing teeth. Regular check-ups with a dentist can also diagnose gum disease, often before symptoms become apparent.

Risk factors for gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, hormonal changes (such as those during pregnancy or menopause), diabetes, medications that reduce saliva flow, genetic susceptibility, and conditions that weaken immunity, such as HIV/AIDS or leukemia. Regular dental visits and good oral hygiene can help manage these risk factors.

Risk factors for this disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, hormonal changes (such as those during pregnancy or menopause), diabetes, medications that reduce saliva flow, genetic susceptibility, and conditions that weaken immunity, such as HIV/AIDS or leukemia. Regular dental visits and good oral hygiene can help manage these risk factors.

Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for the development and progression of this disease. Smokers are more likely to form plaque and tartar on their teeth, which lead to the inflammation of the gum tissue. Additionally, tobacco use can impair blood flow to the gums, hindering the healing process and making smokers more susceptible to infections like periodontal disease.

Yes, hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect gum health. For instance, it leads to a condition commonly known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” This is marked by increased gum sensitivity, swelling, and bleeding. This is due to the heightened inflammatory response caused by hormonal fluctuations. It’s important for pregnant women to maintain excellent oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to prevent pregnancy gingivitis from progressing to more severe gum disease.

Research has established links between periodontal disease and several systemic diseases. The inflammatory nature of gum disease is thought to contribute to the development and severity of other chronic inflammatory conditions. For example, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For example, the bacteria from inflamed gums can enter the bloodstream and potentially affect heart valves or the brain.

There is a bidirectional relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Poor blood sugar control can contribute to the progression of gum disease, while severe this disease can make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels. Managing one condition can often lead to improvements in the other, highlighting the importance of oral health in managing diabetes.

Treatment for this disease depends on its severity and can range from non-surgical methods like scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) to surgical interventions in more advanced cases. Other treatments include antibiotics to control infection, laser therapy to reduce bacteria and promote regrowth of healthy tissue, and lifestyle changes to sustain oral health.

Non-surgical treatments for this disease include professional dental cleaning. This is to remove plaque and tartar, scaling and root planing to clean the root surfaces and remove the plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets, and antimicrobial mouth rinses to reduce bacteria.

Yes, when this disease is advanced, surgical options may be necessary. These can include flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery) to reduce the size of the periodontal pockets, bone grafts to regenerate lost bone, soft tissue grafts to cover exposed root surfaces, and guided tissue regeneration to encourage the body’s natural healing processes.

Precision periodontics is an approach that tailors treatment to the individual patient. This is based on their unique risk factors, such as genetic predisposition and the presence of specific bacteria. This approach moves away from the “one size fits all” model towards a more personalized treatment plan that can more effectively manage gum disease. It utilises advanced diagnostic methods to monitor the disease’s progression and response to treatment.

Despite the high burden of oral diseases, including gum disease, and their impact on general health, research in this field is significantly underfunded in Australia. This disparity may be due to the lack of public awareness about the importance of oral health and its connection to overall health, as well as the historical separation of dental health from general health in research funding and policy circles.

Despite the high burden of oral diseases, including gum disease, and their impact on general health, research in this field is significantly underfunded in Australia. This disparity may be due to the lack of public awareness about the importance of oral health and its connection to overall health, as well as the historical separation of dental health from general health in research funding and policy circles.

Increased funding for gum disease research can lead to better diagnostic tools, more effective treatments, and improved public health initiatives. It can also support the education of dental professionals and the public about the importance of oral health and its connection to systemic diseases. Ultimately, better funding can lead to a reduction in the prevalence and severity of gum disease and its associated health complications.

Prevention of gum disease involves maintaining excellent oral hygiene, which includes brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily to remove plaque between teeth, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are also crucial, as dentists can remove tartar that can’t be cleaned away by brushing and flossing alone. Additionally, quitting smoking and managing health conditions like diabetes can significantly reduce the risk.

It is generally recommended to visit the dentist for a check-up and professional cleaning every six months. However, those with a higher risk of dental diseases may need to visit more frequently. Regular dental visits allow for early detection and management of gum disease before it becomes severe.

Flossing is essential because it removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gumline, areas that a toothbrush can’t reach. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar, which contributes to gum disease. Regular flossing is a key component of oral hygiene practices to prevent gum disease.

While fluoride is primarily known for preventing tooth decay, it also helps in protecting the gums. Fluoride can help to remineralise enamel, making teeth more resistant to plaque and bacteria which, if left unchecked, can lead to gum disease. It also has antibacterial properties that can help reduce the amount of harmful bacteria around the gums.

Diabetes can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections, including gum infections. High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can also promote the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease. Conversely, severe gum disease can affect blood glucose control, creating a vicious cycle that exacerbates both conditions.

Emerging research suggests a potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Bacteria from gum disease can travel through the bloodstream to the brain or release substances that have a harmful effect on brain tissues, potentially increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, can often be reversed with good oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings. However, more advanced gum disease (periodontitis) can be managed effectively but not completely cured. Treatment focuses on controlling the infection and preventing further damage to the tissues and bone that support teeth.

Poor oral hygiene allows plaque to build up on teeth, which can lead to the inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to periodontitis, where the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that can become infected and lead to tooth loss.

A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and, consequently, the risk of gum disease. Reducing the intake of sugary snacks and drinks, which can contribute to plaque formation, is also beneficial. Eating a well-balanced diet contributes to overall health and supports a robust immune system to fight off infections.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends a comprehensive approach to managing gum disease, which includes professional dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, education on proper brushing and flossing techniques, quitting smoking, and managing other health conditions. The ADA also supports the move towards precision periodontics, which involves creating personalized treatment plans based on an individual’s specific risk factors and needs.

Leave a Reply