Get IBD info delivered to your inbox
Sign up to our mailing list and receive regular articles and tips about IBD.
Gum diseaseÂ is a very common condition where the gums become swollen,Â sore orÂ infected.
Most adults in theÂ UK have gum disease to some degree andÂ most people experience it at least once. It's much less common in children.
If you have gum disease, yourÂ gums may bleed whenÂ you brush your teeth and you may have bad breath. This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis.
If gingivitis isn't treated, a condition called periodontitis can develop. This affects more tissues that support teeth andÂ hold them in place.
IfÂ periodontitisÂ isn't treated, the bone in your jawÂ may be damaged and small spaces can open upÂ between the gum and teeth.Â Your teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.
Read more about the symptoms of gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria.
Some bacteria in plaqueÂ are harmless, but some are harmful for the health of your gums. If you don't remove plaque from your teeth by brushing them, itÂ builds up and irritates your gums. This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and soreness.
Read more about the causes of gum disease.
You should make an appointment to see your dentist if your gums are painful,Â swollenÂ or if they bleed when you brush your teeth. Find a dentist near you.
Your dentistÂ can carry out a thorough dental examination to check the health of your gums, which may involve inserting a thinÂ metal stick with a bend in one endÂ (periodontal probe) beside your teeth.
In some cases, a number of X-rays may be needed to check the condition of your teeth and jaw bone.
Mild cases of gum disease can usually be treated by maintaining a good level of oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. You should also make sure you attend regular dental check-ups.
In most cases, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to give your teeth a thorough clean and remove any hardened plaque (tartar). They'll also be able to show you how to clean your teeth effectively to help prevent plaque building up in the future.
If you have severe gum disease, you'llÂ usually need to have further medical and dental treatment and, in some cases, surgery may need to be carried out.Â This will usually be performed by a specialist in gumÂ problems (periodontics).
Read more about treating gum disease and keeping your teeth clean.
It's importantÂ to have regular dentalÂ check-ups so any problems with your teeth and gums can be detected and treated early.
If you've never had gum disease and have good oral health, you may only need to visit your dentist every one to twoÂ years for a check-up.
You may need to visit your dentist more frequently if you've had problems with gum disease in the past. At each appointment your dentist will advise when you need your next appointment.
If you have an increased risk of developing gum problemsÂ â€“ for example, if you smoke or have diabetesÂ â€“ you may be advised to visit your dentist more often so your teeth and gums can be closely monitored.
If you have untreated gum disease that develops into periodontitis, it can lead to further complications, such as:
Read more about the complications of gum disease.
Why not sign up to our mailing list and receive regular articles and tips about IBD to your inbox?