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Periodontal diseases (Gum Disease)

Periodontal diseases (also known as gum diseases) are infections of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place.

If your gums are tender or bleeding, chances are, you have gum disease!

  • An infectious disease that starts between your tooth and your gum
  • Bacteria live there, and when too many move in, they form plaque
  • Plaque and tartar irritate your gums, which swell and bleed
  • Serious gum disease is called periodontitis
  • Severe periodontitis damages your gums and your teeth,
  • Your teeth can fall out and your overall health can deteriorate

Periodontal diseases are often painless and you may not be aware that you have a problem until your gums and supporting bone are seriously damaged.

The good news is that periodontal diseases often can be treated in the early stages with a treatment to clean your teeth called scaling and root planing.

Treatment has huge benefit. You will increase the chances of keeping your natural teeth.


What Causes Gum Disease?

Plaque is a film of bacteria that attaches to teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque cause irritation of the tissues that support your teeth. This irritation can lead to chronic inflammation, bleeding and swelling that can destroy your gum and bone tissue.

Plaque that is not completely removed may harden into rough, porous deposit called tartar, or calculus. Tartar by itself does cause disease, but it typically allows more plaque to form and makes it more difficult to remove plaque that can thrive on, in or near tartar. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth cleaned at the dental office. More importantly, plaque is always forming even as you sleep. Thus, regular visits to the dentist are necessary to remove plaque and calculus in hard-to-remove places.

  • Not brushing and flossing everyday
  • Dry mouth — saliva washes away bacteria
  • Foods with too much sugar e.g. kuih, milk coffee and tea, desserts, sweets and chocolate, soft drinks
  • Using tobacco in any form
  • Changes in the body during pregnancy
  • A history of gum disease in your family — increases your chances of getting it
  • Diabetics easily get infections (such as gum disease)


Signs and symptoms

Healthy Gums

  • When your gums are healthy, they are pink and firm.


  • Your gums are tender, reddish and may bleed when you brush your teeth.
  • Bad breath


Early/Moderate Periodontitis

  • Your gums start to pull away from your teeth, leaving a gap or pocket.
  • Harmful bacteria build up; gums get more irritated, infected and bleed easily.
  • Your teeth get more sensitive because more root is exposed.
  • Food tends to get lodged in the gums and you find difficulty in removing them from the gums.
  • Bad breath

Advanced Periodontitis

  • Bacteria spread; you lose gum tissue and bone that support the teeth.
  • Gums pull farther away.
  • Your teeth get loose, shift position and can fall out.



Professional treatment plus better brushing and flossing may be able to reverse some damage caused by periodontitis. Catching it early and taking action is the best way to stop it.

The natural tooth is always better; avoid extraction.


Fight gum disease with proper care

Learn to remove plaque by brushing properly without damaging the enamel.

  • Brush the gum as well.
  • Plaque tends to settle at the gumline.

Your dental professional may recommend using:

  • a power brush
  • a prescription toothpaste
  • a prescription oral rinse

Floss every day to remove plaque between teeth.

The interdental brushes, which come in various sizes, are useful too.

Do not miss appointments with your Dental Professional.

Professional Dental Scaler Unit

You may also need professional treatments to fight advanced stages of gum disease.

  • Scaling and root planning
  • Prescription medicine
  • Flap surgery — the gums are cut open to remove the infected gum.
  • Bone grafting — artificial bone is used to replace bone loss around the teeth


Article Written & Contributed To By

Dr. Tan Ai Hooi - BDS (Malaya)

Tan Dental Clinic 
Address: No.11, 1st Floor , Jalan SS 2/75 , 47300 , Petaling Jaya , Selangor , Malaysia .
Phone: 03 7876 6812

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