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Healthy Living

Gum Disease

How does the gum disease start?
Who can get gum disease?
How can I prevent gingivitis?
How do I prevent the onset of gum disease?

How does the gum disease start?

Gum disease, technically known as periodontal disease, is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. How the disease starts and progresses is described here.

Healthy gums closely grip the sides of the teeth anchoring them firmly in place, with the help of bone.


Unremoved plaque produces acids and bacterial irritants. It also hardens into calculus, commonly called tartar which presses around the gum line. As the gum becomes inflamed, it may bleed. This condition is known as Gingivitis.


If untreated, the infection spreads to the bone supporting the tooth. Pus is formed, the bone begins to erode, and eventually the tooth may be lost. This condition is called Periodontitis or Pyorrhea.


The early stage of gum disease, gingivitis, starts with plaque. Plaque is a soft, sticky colourless film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If you do not clean your teeth properly, the plaque builds up and the bacteria produces toxins and enzymes that can irritate the gums. Gums can become red, swollen, sensitive and can bleed on provocation.

Who can get gum disease?

Although periodontal diseases can occur at any stage, they usually affect adults. As many as 90% of people above 40 years suffer from some form of gum-disease, making it the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

How can I prevent gingivitis?

  • Brush and floss twice a day after meals to control plaque build-up.
  • Eat a balanced diet, especially one rich in dietary fibre. Fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and fish are recommended.
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year. He is trained to recognise early symptoms of gum disease and offer curative procedures.

How do I prevent the onset of gum disease?

Certain measures are known to prevent the re-setting of plaque at the gum-line and therefore, reduce the risk of gum disease. You must practice the good dental habits described in the next section.


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