Gum Disease – What is it and how to check for signs/symptoms?

Gum-DiseaseYou’ve probably heard of gum disease, but you may be wondering what exactly it is and if you have it. Read more to find out:

Gum disease is very common. The Canadian Dental Association explains that 7 out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some point in their lives. Moreover, gum disease tends to progress without pain, and therefore, it may be left undetected for quite some time. This is why it’s important to practice good oral hygiene, learn how to self-check for signs of gum disease, and visit your dentist regularly.

The gum disease process starts when plaque builds up on the edge of your gums. Plaque hardens into tartar over time if it is not removed daily by brushing and flossing. The build-up of tartar then creates a bacterial infection at the gum line, thereby starting the gum disease process. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At the gingivitis stage, you may or may not notice that your gums are a little more red than normal.

As gingivitis progresses, the bacterial infection spreads and your gums may become puffy and may bleed a little when you brush or floss your teeth. This bleeding usually isn’t painful, so most people don’t think much about it. However, if left untreated, the infection can cause damage to your gum tissue, which increases your risk of losing teeth.

The good news is that gum disease can be prevented by regular brushing and flossing with good technique. If you’re unsure of your technique, ask for a demonstration next time you’re in for a cleaning. You can also visit our blog post on brushing and flossing:

Visiting your dentist and dental hygienist for regular cleanings and check-ups is another important way to prevent gum disease and identify any potential concerns. If you are in the early stages of gum disease, your dental hygienist can prevent future damage by removing the gingivitis-causing tartar. In more advanced stages of gum disease, you may be referred to see a periodontist, who has completed specialist training in treating advanced gum disease.

Regardless of the stage of your gum disease, seeking out professional advice and continuing to brush and floss daily will greatly improve your outcomes and prevent loosing teeth.  In between check-ups, make sure to perform a self-examination to look for signs of active gum disease. According to the Canadian Dental Association these signs include:

  • Red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Bad breath that won’t go away.

Make sure to mention any changes in your oral health to your dental practitioner, and inform them of any new medications that you are taking. If you have any questions or concerns about gum disease or your overall oral health, do not hesitate to ask!



  1. Canadian Dental Association. FAQs – Gum Disease. Obtained from:
  2. Canadian Dental Association. Oral Health – Good for life. Obtained from:

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