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Gum disease affects most people at some time during their life. It is usually caused by a build-up of plaque on teeth. There are two main stages of gum disease:
Gingivitis is early gum disease and occurs when dental plaque builds up on teeth, particularly where the gum joins the tooth.
Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease that may occur if gingivitis is not treated. The gum margin, the part of the gum that seals to the tooth, is weakened and spaces form between the tooth and the gum. These spaces are called ‘periodontal pockets.’ Bacteria become trapped in these pockets causing further inflammation (redness and swelling).
Periodontitis can affect the covering of the tooth root (cementum), the bone and the fibres that connect the cementum to the bone (periodontal ligament). As the disease progresses and bone is lost, larger spaces begin to form between the tooth and the gum.
Cleaning teeth can help prevent gum disease
While it is tempting to avoid cleaning your gums when they are inflamed and bleeding, brushing will help improve the situation.