Smile Bright: What is Gum Disease? What Causes Gum Disease? Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a common oral health concern that many of us may not pay enough attention to.We often focus on keeping our teeth clean and cavity-free, but the health of our gums is equally important.

This blog will tell you all you need to know about gum disease: exploring what it is, the types, its causes, signs to watch out for, and most importantly, how to treat it. Additionally, we'll touch on some tips for managing gum disease without a visit to the dentist.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It typically starts with the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. If not removed through regular brushing and flossing, this plaque can harden into tartar, leading to inflammation of the gums.

Types of gum diseases

Gum diseases encompass a range of conditions, each with its own characteristics and severity. The two primary types are gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis - This is the early and milder stage of gum disease. It is often characterised by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is usually reversible with improved oral hygiene practices and regular dental cleanings. If left untreated, however, it can progress to a more severe form of gum disease.

Periodontitis - When gingivitis advances, it can develop into periodontitis, a more serious and potentially irreversible condition. Periodontitis is marked by the inflammation of the supporting structures around the teeth, including the bone. As the disease progresses, pockets may form between the teeth and gums, leading to further bacterial growth and damage. Periodontitis can result in tooth loss if not properly managed through professional dental treatments and enhanced oral care at home.

Causes of gum disease

Understanding why gum disease occurs is vital for prevention. The main culprit is the bacteria present in plaque. When plaque accumulates on your teeth, it can irritate your gums, making them red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. If left untreated, gum disease can advance to more severe stages, potentially leading to tooth loss.

Poor oral hygiene - Inconsistent or inadequate oral care routines can leave plaque on your teeth, paving the way for gum disease.

Smoking and tobacco use - Smoking weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off gum infections.

Genetics - Some people may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. If your family has a history of periodontal issues, it's essential to be vigilant about your oral health.

Certain health conditions - Conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders can increase the risk of gum disease.

Signs of gum disease

Recognising the signs of gum disease early on is crucial for effective intervention. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

Bleeding gums: Healthy gums shouldn't bleed during regular brushing or flossing. If you notice blood, it could be a sign of gum inflammation.

Swollen or red gums: Inflammation can cause your gums to become swollen and appear redder than usual.

Persistent bad breath: Bacteria associated with gum disease can also produce unpleasant odours, leading to persistent bad breath.

Receding gums: As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your gums are pulling away from your teeth, exposing more of the tooth's surface.

Loose or shifting teeth: Advanced gum disease can result in the loss of bone support, causing your teeth to become loose or shift in position.

How to treat gum disease

Fortunately, gum disease can be treated, especially if detected early. Here are some important steps to address gum disease:

Good oral hygiene
As we mentioned earlier, gum disease is mainly caused by the bacteria in your mouth. Thus, the foundation of its treatment is a robust oral care routine. Brush your teeth at least twice daily, floss every day, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria.

Professional cleaning
Regular dental cleanings are essential for removing tartar and plaque buildup that can't be addressed through regular brushing and flossing.

Scaling and root planing
For more advanced cases, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning procedure that removes tartar and smoothens the tooth roots to promote healing.

How to treat gum disease without a dentist

While professional dental care is crucial for managing gum disease, there are steps you can take at home to support your oral health. Although the provided home remedies are generally considered safe, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or dealing with any other medical condition before using them.

In case of severe symptoms, such as intense pain or persistent bleeding, or if natural remedies don't improve your gum disease, it's essential to get advice from your doctor or dentist. Neglecting treatment for gingivitis may lead to more serious health issues.

Saltwater - A study from 2016 shows that warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly. Spit out the rinse, don’t swallow it! Repeat it 2-3 times a day.
Green tea - Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce gum disease symptoms. Drink a cup of unsweetened green tea regularly.
Oil pulling - Some people find oil pulling with coconut or sesame oil beneficial for reducing bacteria in the mouth. A study from 2009 showed a reduction of plaque in people with gingivitis. Swish a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for about 15-20 minutes and then spit it out.


In conclusion, gum disease is a common condition that can be effectively managed with proper oral care and professional intervention. By understanding the causes, recognising the signs, and taking proactive steps to treat and prevent gum disease, you can maintain a healthy smile.

While these home remedies can complement your oral care routine, it's crucial to consult with a dentist for a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Remember, a healthy mouth contributes not only to your overall well-being but also to your confidence and quality of life.

Frequently asked questions - gum disease

No, gum disease itself is not directly contagious. However, the bacteria that contribute to gum disease can be transmitted through saliva. It's important to practise good oral hygiene to minimise the risk of spreading these bacteria to others, especially through activities like sharing utensils or kissing.

In its early stages (gingivitis), gum disease can be reversed with proper oral care. Improved brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings can eliminate the plaque and tartar that cause inflammation. However, more advanced stages may require professional intervention, and some damage may be irreversible.

It is generally recommended to visit the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every six months. These visits allow the dentist to detect and address any signs of gum disease early on, as well as provide professional cleaning to remove hardened plaque and tartar.

While proper brushing is a crucial component of gum disease prevention and management, it alone may not be sufficient. Regular flossing, using an antiseptic mouthwash, and professional dental cleanings are equally important. Consulting with your dentist can help determine the most effective oral care routine for your specific needs.

There is a potential connection between vaping and an increased risk of gum disease. Vaping's nicotine content may reduce blood flow to the gums, impacting their ability to fight infections.

The heat and chemicals from vaping liquids may contribute to gum irritation and inflammation. However, more research is needed to fully understand this relationship.