Gum Disease / Periodontal Disease / Pyorrhoea

These are all the same disease that often leads to tooth loss. The process of gum disease starts with the build up of plaque. Plaque is the white film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth every day if this is removed from all the areas three times a day by good brushing and flossing the gums remain healthy and will cause you no trouble. However any plaque left in place irritates the gum causing a mild condition called gingivitis. Plaque continues to absorb calcium from your saliva and hardens into tartar (calculus), this is just like the scale in your kettle. Most people get some tartar build up especially behind their lower front teeth regular cleaning every six months prevents this causing any significant damage. However if this is not removed the tartar slowly and painlessly eats away at the gum around the teeth causing gum recession (peeling back) and/or pocketing around the teeth.

The process will continue slowly until the gums are so eaten away that the teeth get loose or even fall out. You can often get gum infections (abscesses) once they are very bad. The treatment for very severe gum disease is a very thorough cleaning off of all the tartar from all the areas over several visits usually with local anaesthetic. Sometimes specialist treatment from a periodontist is required. There are several factors that make gum disease worse: smoking; badly fitting dentures, crowns or fillings; diabetes and pregnancy.


Brush three times and floss once a day. Use a soft or medium textured toothbrush with a compact head eg Oral B 30/35. Have your teeth checked and cleaned every six months by your dentist or dental hygienist.