How to Fight Gum Disease

As April is Oral Health Month, it is an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves about the importance of the health of our teeth and gums in relation to our overall health. In particular, we would like to focus on one of the most common oral health issues: Periodontitis (Gum Disease). According to the Canadian Dental Association, 7 out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives, and the risks can increase with age. However, the damage can be stopped if periodontitis is treated early and proper oral hygiene is maintained.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a serious infection of the gums, caused by the accumulation of bacteria on the teeth and gums. When bacteria stay on the teeth for long enough, they form a film called plaque. If plaque is not properly removed by daily brushing and flossing, it can harden to tartar or calculus, which can only be removed by a dental health professional.

Besides poor oral hygiene, certain factors can put you at a higher risk of periodontitis, including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Conditions that impact your immune system, such as HIV or leukemia
  • Genetics
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives

Stages of Gum Disease

Inflammation (gingivitis):

Your gums may look red and swollen. You may notice some blood when you brush your teeth or floss, although there may not be any pain. Gingivitis can be prevented and/or reversed by maintaining good daily oral hygiene. If left untreated, it will often progress into periodontitis.


Periodontitis affects the bone and gums that support and keep teeth in their place. In the early stages, your gums pull away from your teeth and small pockets form between gums and teeth. Bacteria can get into these pockets and can cause bone loss. You may experience bleeding and pain around the teeth, as well as persistent bad breath.

In advanced stages of periodontitis, your teeth may become loose when the gums, bones, and other tissue that support your teeth decay. You may experience severe pain while chewing, severe bad breath, or a foul taste in your mouth. At that point you are at risk of losing your teeth.

Other complications of periodontitis include:

  • Painful abscesses
  • Shifting teeth, which may interfere with eating
  • Receding gums
  • Increased risk of complications during pregnancy, including low birth weight and preeclampsia
  • Increased risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Treatment and Prevention of Gum Disease

The main goal of treatment is to control the infection by removing plaque and bacterial deposits on your teeth and gum. When you visit our dental office, our dental care team will give you advice and instructions on how to properly brush and floss your teeth. We will also suggest regular hygiene appointments so we can remove plaque buildup and clean out any pockets that have formed between your teeth and gums.

For severe cases of periodontitis, we may prescribe antibiotics to help with persistent gum infections or recommend surgery to clean deposits under your gums. If you've had any bone loss, a procedure called bone grafting may be done to regenerate the lost bone.

You can keep your gums and teeth healthy by:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Consider using an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective at removing plaque.
  • Regularly removing plaque from between teeth with dental floss, pick, or water flosser.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Visiting our dental office regularly for hygiene appointments.

Do you have concerns about your dental health? Don't forget to book a check-up appointment with us today so we can help protect and restore your smile!


1141 Lawrence Avenue West Toronto, Ontario, (416) 785-8586
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