Gum disease is where the gums become red, swollen and sore, and bleed. It’s very common, but it’s important to get it checked by a dentist.

Check if you have gum disease

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth, floss or eat hard foods such as apples
  • your gums becoming swollen, red and sore

Gum disease can lead to:

  • bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth
  • your gums shrinking
  • your teeth becoming loose or falling out

See a dentist if:

  • your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or eat hard foods
  • your gums are painful and swollen
  • you have bad breath
  • your child has sore, bleeding gums

Ask for an urgent dentist appointment if:

You or your child have gum disease and other symptoms such as:

  • very sore and swollen gums
  • teeth becoming loose or falling out
  • ulcers or red patches in your mouth
  • a lump in your mouth or on your lip

Get regular dental check-ups

You should have regular dental check-ups even if you do not have any problems. See a dentist if you have not had a check-up for 2 years (or 1 year if you’re under 18).

Treatments for gum disease

Your dentist will check your teeth and gums, and may take some X-rays to check your teeth and jaw bone.

They may also refer you to a specialist for further tests and treatment.

How gum disease is treated depends on how severe it is.

In the early stages, your dentist will:

  • give you advice about keeping your teeth clean, such as using interdental brushes
  • advise you to stop smoking, if you smoke
  • advise you to get your teeth cleaned by a hygienist

If your gum disease is serious, you may need:

  • to have deep cleaning under the gums
  • antibiotics
  • to have some teeth removed
  • gum surgery

Preventing gum disease

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth.

If you do not remove plaque from your teeth by brushing and cleaning in between them regularly, it builds up and irritates your gums.