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Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. It is also called periodontal disease.
There are two types of gum disease:
Gum disease is caused by the growth of germs called bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in plaque, a clear, sticky substance that your mouth produces.
Things that make you more likely to get gum disease include:
Healthy gums are pink and firm, fit snugly around the teeth, and do not bleed easily. Gingivitis causes:
Gingivitis usually isn't painful, so you may not notice the symptoms and may not get the treatment you need.
In periodontitis, the symptoms are easier to see, such as:
If you think you have gum disease, see your dentist right away. Early treatment can keep it from getting worse.
To find out if you have gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will do an exam to look for:
Your dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.
Early treatment of gum disease is very important. It can help prevent permanent gum damage, control infection, and prevent tooth loss. For treatment to work:
For gingivitis, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection. They can be put directly on the gums, swallowed as pills or capsules, or swished around your teeth as mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend an antibacterial toothpaste that reduces plaque and gingivitis when used regularly.
For periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist may clean your teeth using a method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line.
You may need surgery if these treatments don't control the infection or if you have severe damage to your gums or teeth. Surgery options include:
After surgery, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to aid healing and prevent infection.
After treatment, keep your mouth disease-free by brushing and flossing to prevent plaque buildup. Your dentist will probably prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash.
Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, even children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life.
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|Dental Care: Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth|
Learning about gum disease:
Living with gum disease:
|American Academy of Periodontology|
|737 N Michigan Avenue|
|Chicago, IL 60611-2690|
The American Academy of Periodontology is an association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth. The Academy's purpose is to advocate, educate, and set standards that advance the periodontal and general health of the public and promote excellence in the practice of periodontics. The Academy publishes the Journal of Periodontology.
The Web site includes consumer information on gum disease and its treatment as well as a section on the latest research.
|American Dental Association|
|211 East Chicago Avenue|
|Chicago, IL 60611-2678|
The American Dental Association (ADA), the professional membership organization of practicing dentists, provides information about oral health care for children and adults. The ADA can also help you find a dentist in your area.
|KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and Teens|
|Nemours Home Office|
|10140 Centurion Parkway|
|Jacksonville, FL 32256|
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
|National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)|
|National Institutes of Health|
|Bethesda, MD 20892-2190|
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is a governmental agency that provides information about oral, dental, and craniofacial health. By conducting and supporting research, the NIDCR aims to promote health, prevent diseases and conditions, and develop new diagnostics and therapeutics.
Other Works Consulted
- Famili P, et al. (2007). The effect of androgen deprivation therapy on periodontal disease in men with prostate cancer. Journal of Urology, 177(3): 921–924.
- Hodges KO (2009). Periodontal diseases. In NO Harris et al., eds., Primary Preventive Dentistry, 7th ed., pp. 46–66. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
- Robinson PG, et al. (2005). Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2). Oxford: Update Software.
- Task Force on Periodontal Treatment of Pregnant Women (2004). American Academy of Periodontology statement regarding periodontal management of the pregnant patient. Journal of Periodontology, 75(3): 495.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry|
|Last Revised||May 29, 2013|
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