Patient FAQs - Gum Disease

We regularly receives enquiries from the public about gum disease. We can't give specific advice to individual patients, but hope that our answers to the frequently asked questions below are helpful.

Periodontal Disease & Treatment


Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. Although most individuals suffer gum inflammation from time to time, around 10% of the population appear to suffer from the more severe forms of the disease which cause loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease. It is caused by the bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth.

Around 10% of the population is susceptible. Our knowledge is improving all the time of why this is, although 3 major factors are thought to be responsible. Family history, stress and smoking are all important risk factors. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make an indivdual more susceptible.

The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease vary significantly but may include gums that bleed when brushing, together with signs of more advanced disease such as movement or drifting of the teeth. However, it is possible to have the disease and not be aware of these signs. It is essential to see your dentist regularly so that special assessment techniques, sometimes including x-rays, can be carried out as part of your routine dental examinations.

Regular examinations by your dentist will ensure that the right diagnosis is made. Your dentist will be able to advise you about any necessary treatment. This will often include specific oral hygiene methods to help you control the bacteria that collect on your teeth. There may also be a need to carry out some professional cleaning of your teeth. Most cases of periodontal disease can be successfully treated by your dentist using methods such as these. Occasionally, more complex treatments are required and your dentist will advise you accordingly.

Ask your dentist. If you don’t have one, you can find names and telephone numbers of local dentists in telephone directories, although it is often good to ask friends for a recommendation.

The normal means of finding a specialist periodontist is by referral from a general dental practitioner. However, you can search for a specialist using the General Dental Council's website.

In 2016, the BSP headed up a Gum Disease Awareness Campaign - see more on this page.

EFP Prevention Workshop – Dentists got together to discuss and evaluate the effects of gum disease. Downloads from this workshop can be found on our publications page here. There is a special document prepared for patients - which you can find here.

The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) have produced a document: Gum Health Facts and Figures - which you can find here.