How to Spot and Prevent Different Types of Gum Diseases

Did you know that between 15-20% of adults aged 35-44 have severe gum disease? This is one reason why it’s so important to stay in the know about oral health care and what you can do to prevent gum disease.

Knowing you need to pay close attention to your oral health is only half. The battle.
It’s also just as important to know all about the different types of gum diseases. This way, you can take preventative steps to stop gum disease before it develops or becomes worse.

Do you know the different types of gum disease and the signs of gum disease to look out for? Read on to learn all about the different types, warning signs, and steps to take.


You may have heard of gingivitis in school or at your dentist’s office. Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that will cause your gingiva to swell and become red and irritated. Your gingiva is the section of your gums at the base of your teeth.

While gingivitis is mild, it’s important to treat it right away because it can develop into more serious gum disease or tooth decay, or loss.

So, what causes gingivitis? Generally, this gum disease is caused by a lack of an effective oral hygiene routine. When teeth aren’t taken care of properly it allows plaque to develop on your teeth.

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth. It develops when sugars and other materials from your food mix with the bacteria that naturally form in your mouth. Plaque should be removed daily, otherwise, it will turn into tartar.

Tartar forms when plaque stays on your teeth and hardens under your gumline. Tartar creates a protective pocket around the plaque that collects bacteria and irritates your gums.

The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more likely it is that gingivitis can develop.

Some symptoms of gingivitis are swollen and puffy gums, dark red gums, bad breath, tenderness of the gums, and gums that bleed when you try to floss or brush.

Gingivitis Prevention and Help

If you do not have gingivitis, there are steps you can take to continue the prevention of developing it. There are also risk factors associated with gingivitis that you can stay away from to help your chances of maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Some risk factors include smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, having a vitamin C deficiency, and having crooked teeth that are difficult to clean.

First, make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day. This is important to make sure that plaque doesn’t have time to harden and become tartar on your teeth. An electric toothbrush is recommended.

It’s also equally important to floss every day. Flossing is sometimes overlooked or thought of as optional, but it is equally as important as brushing. Brushing alone cannot clean your mouth properly unless you also pair it with flossing.

Flossing allows you to remove any food particles or debris from the deep, tight spaces between your teeth after you eat. These food bits and bacteria can often hide in spaces that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach. Try to floss twice a day, or after every big meal.

It is also important to keep up with your regular dental cleanings and appointments. This way, even if tartar has formed, your dentist can properly remove it.

Last, but not least, it helps to have an overall healthy and nutritious diet. This should include eating less processed sugars and starches.

If gingivitis goes untreated for long enough, it can lead to more serious gum diseases that are more difficult to treat. Healthy oral habits will also help prevent other issues like dental cavities.


If gingivitis goes untreated long enough, it can turn into periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

Given time, it can damage soft tissue in your mouth and damage the bone that supports your teeth. Left untreated, it may also lead to having loose teeth or actually losing your teeth.

Signs that gingivitis has turned into periodontitis include all the same symptoms of gingivitis.

Added symptoms are finding pus between your teeth, experiencing pain while chewing, visibly receding gums, gums that easily pull away from your teeth, and noticing a change in how your teeth align when you bite down.

Aside from affecting your teeth, periodontitis can also cause other health risks if left untreated.

This happens because periodontal bacteria can enter your bloodstream through your gum’s tissues. It can then lead to blood vessel inflammation.

It is linked to blood clots, heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory disease. It may also cause complications with blood sugar and diabetes.

Some added risk factors of periodontitis are (along with the risk factors of gingivitis) recreational drug use that requires smoking, obesity, genetics,

Chronic Periodontal Disease

The next and more serious stage beyond periodontitis is chronic periodontal disease.

Chronic periodontal disease often progresses slowly and painlessly, which is why you may not even realize you have it until it’s too late. This is why it’s always a good idea to keep up with a regular oral health routine, even if you think your mouth is relatively healthy.

Since it’s hard to detect on your own, you may not notice it has developed until it has reached a stage where bone loss is evident.

This is another reason why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly as a professional will be able to spot the issue, possibly before any bone loss. This disease can only form from gingivitis, so the sooner it is caught, the more effective treatment can be.

Treating chronic periodontal disease includes both surgical and nonsurgical solutions. Your dentist may use hand scalers or ultrasonic instruments for scaling and root planing, which removes plaque and tartar from below your gum tissues.

Periodontal laser treatment may also be used. This procedure uses laser technology to remove diseased tissue from your gums. This method may be preferred as some experience less gum shrinkage and are more comfortable.

Aggressive Periodontal Disease

Aggressive periodontal disease is a more destructive level of gum disease that usually takes place in patients under age 30. For this reason, it is sometimes also called early-onset periodontitis.

This disease usually takes place in the molar area of your mouth. It usually includes symptoms like heavy plaque deposits, inflammation along the gumlines, receding gums, and bone loss.

Some extra signs to look out for if you suspect your child may have this gum disease are spaces developing between teeth, pockets of pus between teeth, and halitosis, otherwise known as chronic bad breath.

You will also want to look out for impacted food in your child’s mouth, which may be a result of misaligned or lost contact between teeth while they chew.

It’s important to catch this disease as soon as possible in children before it leads to early tooth loss. The more advanced the disease becomes, the harder it is to treat, though it may still not be impossible.

Children with this gum disease are unlikely to experience severe pain but may complain of dull pain around their gums. They may feel pain if a periodontal abscess develops, which is caused by bacteria accumulating in periodontal pockets.

This gum disease progresses in an alternating pattern of progression and dormancy.

During periods of dormancy, there will be no visible signs of the disease and gums will look pink and healthy. Only expert probing done by a dentist will reveal deep periodontal pockets.

These dormant periods can last from days to years and are followed by active periods. During active periods there may be mild to severe gum inflammation, spontaneous gum bleeding, bleeding due to probing, bone loss, and gum-tooth attachment loss.

Periodontitis Disease Relating to Systemic Conditions

Systemic diseases are diseases that affect more than one organ or tissue or may even affect the whole body. As mentioned previously, gum disease is also sometimes linked to other health issues in other areas of the body.

Gum disease may contribute to the progression of a disease already present or it may be triggered by another co-existing disease that makes gum disease worse.

Depending on the underlying disease, it may cause periodontitis to progress rapidly even if there is only a little amount of plaque on your teeth.

Heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and respiratory disease are some common co-existing diseases of periodontitis.

People with diabetes may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. This is because diabetes sometimes causes you to catch more infections.

Similarly, periodontitis can make it more difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control, which can lead to diabetic complications.

Periodontitis can also contribute to or exacerbate respiratory diseases. Periodontal bacteria can aspirate into your lungs and contribute to diseases like pneumonia.

Depending on the type of co-existing disease, treatment can start by controlling the co-existing disease first.

This may or may not help decelerate the gum disease’s progression. Then, a dentist will be able to treat the gum disease the same way they would treat aggressive or chronic periodontal disease.

Necrotizing Periodontal Disease

Of all the types of gum disease, necrotizing periodontal disease may be the most severe kind. It is sometimes called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or, its more common name, trench mouth.

Obvious signs of trench mouth will be sensitive gums, bleeding gums, or ulcers on your gums.

Your dentist will likely either poke at your gums to check for bleeding or order that x-rays be taken to check if the trench mouth has progressed to the bone underneath your gums.

This disease destroys ligaments, bones, and tissues in your mouth. It may be more common in people who are malnourished, who smoke, or who have co-existing diseases that compromise their immune systems.

While this gum disease is more serious, it is also rarer than the others. It commonly affects teenagers and young adults. It’s also found more commonly in areas where access to dental care is limited or nonexistent or living conditions are poor.

Symptoms of trench mouth are similar to symptoms of gingivitis. They also include ulcers in your mouth, fever, fatigue, feeling pain in your gums, and seeing a grey-colored film on your gums.

Gone untreated, trench mouth can lead to the destruction of your gum tissue, teeth loss, pain, and experiencing difficulty swallowing.

Thankfully, there are treatments for trench mouth. Your treatment may include antibiotics to stop the spread of the infection and pain relievers.

You will also need to get a professional cleaning from your nearby dentist office. After this, you will need to upkeep your ongoing oral health care steps to ensure gum disease does not return.

Stress may also be a factor that exacerbates trench mouth. Try to keep stress levels low as part of your aftercare treatment.

Types of Gum Diseases and More

Now you know the types of gum diseases to look out for, their symptoms, and possible treatment options. The more you learn about gum disease and its root causes, the more you can take preventative steps.

Whether or not you have gum disease, taking proper care of your teeth and gums is imperative to ensure your teeth stay healthy or do not worsen with time. Remember to brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly.

For more on oral health and other hygiene tips, make sure to visit our health webpage!

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