Oral Health Resources | 29 October, 2020

What Is Gum Disease And How Can You Prevent It?

Gum disease is a serious condition that usually results from poor oral hygiene. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums that can go on to destroy the bone surrounding your teeth.

Gum disease is often painless so you might not even know that you have it. If left untreated it can eventually lead to tooth loss.

There are two main types of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the most common and can affect up to 70% of New Zealanders. Periodontitis is more common in adults over 30 and affects around 30%.

Gum disease affects the area around the teeth, progressively destroying soft tissues and bone. The early form of periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis, while more severe cases are referred to as periodontitis.

If you're concerned you might be suffering from gum disease you should get in touch with your dentist or hygienist as soon as possible.


Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum caused by plaque build-up on your teeth. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease and it's also the most common.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Redness and swelling around the gum margins
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing

If your gums are red and irritated rather than firm, you might be suffering from gingivitis. Fortunately, treatment for gingivitis can be fairly straightforward if detected early.

Professional teeth cleaning and an improved home oral care routine can help you manage gingivitis and help get your gums healthy.


Periodontitis is the more severe form of gum disease, usually found in adults. It affects the gums around your teeth as well as the bone and other supporting tissues within your mouth and jaws.

Periodontitis causes the gum to pull away from the teeth leaving deep pockets that trap bacteria and causes teeth to loosen.

If periodontitis is left untreated it can lead to tooth loss. Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. With careful treatment and good oral care, you can stop periodontitis from progressing further.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Inflamed, irritated or red gums
  • Bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
  • Consistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in the way your teeth meet on biting or movement of the teeth

How to prevent gum disease

While some people are more prone to gum disease than others, prevention remains the same. Risk factors include smoking, stress and poor nutrition. Some medications and hormonal changes can also influence your gum health. 

To help with prevention:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss daily between your teeth
  • Drink fluoridated water after eating
  • Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly

This was originally published by our Australian family at Maven Dental. For more information on gum disease and treatment options head here.