The Complete Guide to Gum Disease

Gum disease is one of the most common conditions on the planet. In its early stages it can very easily go unnoticed.


If left untreated, it can have huge consequences on your quality of life, potentially leading to:

  • Bad breath
  • Wobbly teeth
  • Difficulty eating and chewing
  • Loss of confidence
  • Eventual tooth loss

The good news is, in most cases gum disease can be successfully diagnosed and treated. Here at Rhiwbina Dental we take our commitment to gum health very seriously. With two specialist periodontists (experts with extra training and experience of managing advanced gum disease), and a team of highly trained and talented hygienists, we are well equipped to provide you with first class periodontal care. This guide is designed to answer some of the questions you may have about gum disease, as well as providing links to some excellent resources available online. If you would like to discuss anything further with a member of our team, you are very welcome to book a consultation.






By Mr Shaun Hodge BDS MFDS RCPS (Glasg)


Gum disease is an inflammatory condition. When plaque builds up around your teeth, the gum becomes inflamed. This may appear as red, swollen and sore gums, which bleed when brushed. If left untreated, this inflammation can cause the bone which holds our teeth in place to shrink away. Over time this may lead to teeth becoming increasingly wobbly, and in the worst cases teeth may even fall out.


What impact could gum disease have on my life?

One of the challenges of managing gum disease, is that the early symptoms can be very subtle, and easily missed. It is often a painless condition, and it is a common misconception that bleeding gums are completely normal. However, if not diagnosed and treated early, gum disease can begin to impact negatively on our quality of life. Bad breath, receding gums, difficulty eating and chewing and tooth loss can all have a big impact on our ability to live life to the full. Even patients with early, mild gum disease can find that their mouth feels much healthier after some simple treatment with the hygienist.


Can gum disease affect my general health?

Gum disease can impact on your general health. It makes sense that the health of our mouth can impact on the rest of the body. Despite the separation between the training of doctors and dentists, the mouth and body are inextricably connected. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of research into the associations between gum disease and a range of other conditions. In particular, gum disease has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimers, as well as being associated with complications of pregnancy. On a positive note, gum disease is very predictably treated and stabilised in the vast majority of cases, especially when diagnosed early, so it’s a great idea to visit the dentist for regular check ups, and the hygienist for regular gum care.


How is gum disease treated?

Gum disease can be treated in a highly predictable manner in most cases. Although any bone lost due to the disease cannot easily be ‘re-grown’, it is often possible to stabilise the disease, reduce the inflammation and to help your gums and mouth to feel much healthier. There are generally three stages in the treatment of gum disease:


1. Diagnosis and oral hygiene advice

Gum disease cannot be treated without you, the patient being fully committed to improving your oral health. It is vital that you have a good understanding of the condition, and what you can do at home to help keep your mouth as healthy as possible.


2. Non-surgical debridement (‘deep cleaning’)

This involves thorough cleaning above and below the gum line, in an effort to remove or disturb the plaque build up responsible for the inflammation of your gums. This is often done with the aid of local anaesthetic, to make sure you are comfortable. In the weeks following treatment your gums heal and tighten up around your teeth. In some cases, certain sites may require some advanced treatments, including surgical therapy.


3. Supportive care

Once the disease has been stabilised, it is important to continue to regularly visit thehygienist for what is called ‘supportive care’. This is a simple clean, ensuring that your plaque and inflammation levels are kept low, as well as the added benefit of a fresh,
healthy feeling mouth.


If I have gum disease, can I have dental implants?

It is not advisable to have dental implants if you have unstable, untreated gum disease. This is because you can get a disease around implants which is similar to gum disease, and can lead to the failure of any implant treatment. The good news is that in successfully treated gum disease patients, whose disease is ‘stable’, dental implants can be placed successfully – albeit with higher risk of failure in the long term.


Hopefully this guide has answered some of the questions you may have had regarding gum disease. If you would like further information, there is a fantastic patient resource on the BSP website. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our periodontal experts, please feel free to do so.


About the Author

Mr Shaun Hodge BDS MFDS RCSP (Glasg)

Mr Shaun Hodge is a dentist working at the Rhiwbina Dental Surgery at The Pines. He has a particular interest in the management of advanced gum disease, and is an active member of the British Society of Periodontology including winning the Audit Prize in 2020, and presenting at the 2021 BSP conference. He has recently completed additional training at the Royal College of Surgeons England in Periodontics, allowing him to offer both non-surgical and surgical treatments. In addition to his clinical work, Shaun is involved in teaching and clinical research in the Periodontology department at the University of Bristol, working under Professor Nichola West in the highly regarded Clinical Trials Unit.

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