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Periodontal Disease

In the broadest sense, the term gum disease, or periodontal disease, describes bacterial growth and production of factors that gradually destroy the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth.

Gum disease begins with plaque, which is always forming on your teeth, without you even knowing it. If the plaque is not removed on a daily basis it will form tartar (also called calculus) which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause gum disease.

Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. You can lose your teeth from gum disease because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. Your teeth become loose and eventually fall out as the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth.

Gum diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of gum disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious destructive forms of gum disease called periodontitis.


Gum disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Then one day, on a visit to your dentist, you might be told that you have chronic gum disease and that you may be at increased risk of losing your teeth. That is one reason why regular dental check ups and periodontal examinations are very important.

Although the symptoms of gum disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. Visit our participating dentists if you notice any of the following signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn't go away
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures


The main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. However, factors like the following also affect the health of your gums.

  • Tobacco smoking or tobacco chewing
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes
  • Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Crooked teeth
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Poor nutrition

Gum disease will not go away by itself or with improved home care. The only way of removing plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleanings. Once you have had a gum problem you will always be susceptible to recurring problems, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis - every six months, unless he or she recommends otherwise.


If you would like to make an appointment to discuss Periodontal Disease please call the Melbourne Dentist Clinic on (03) 9999 9703.

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