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Gum Disease (Gingivitis): Treatment & Costs

Gum disease is easily prevented and treated if detected early. If ignored, gum disease can lead to more serious health issues. Beyond causing painful, swollen, bleeding gums and bad breath, if left untreated, periodontal disease can result in irreversible bone damage and tooth loss.

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What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease describes the inflammation of the gums as a result of bacterial growth. This bacterial growth is caused by a build-up of plaque that has not been removed by thorough daily brushing and flossing. This plaque forms tartar, or calculus, and bacterial growth, destroying the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth. If left untreated, it can eventually infect the bone that supports the teeth, causing teeth to become loose and even fall out.

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What Are the Types of Gum Disease?

Gum disease exists in two key stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, affecting only the gums, and can be reversed if treated early. If ignored, gingivitis can lead to the more serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis.


The more mild form of gum disease, gingivitis refers to the inflammation of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque along the gum line. The symptoms include sore, soft and swollen gums that may bleed easily. At this stage, the bone structure surrounding and supporting the teeth is not affected.

The first signs of gingivitis are having blood on your toothbrush or dental floss. The damage of gingivitis can be prevented and reversed with daily thorough brushing and flossing and general good oral hygiene. If it is ignored, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis occurs when the inflammation and infection of the gum tissue spreads to the ligaments and bones that surround and support the teeth. This results in shifting or loose teeth that may eventually fall out on their own, or need to be removed by a dentist.

A common sign of periodontitis is receding gums or pockets between the teeth and gums as well as pain while biting. While the damage of periodontal disease cannot be reversed, you can help prevent further damage with daily brushing and flossing and by visiting your approved dentist.

What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease?

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that occurs when gums become infected from the bacteria in plaque build-up. It is easily prevented with good oral hygiene, and can be treated by your approved dentist without any serious or irreversible damage.

Periodontal disease is a more serious stage of gum disease that results in irreversible damage. The bone that holds the teeth in place is infected and can eventually lead to tooth loss. Professional dental care is required to prevent further damage.

How Does Gum Disease Start?

Gum disease begins when plaque is not properly removed each day with good oral hygiene practices. This plaque build-up turns to tartar, promoting a bacterial infection. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. While some people with gingivitis may not notice any significant changes or obvious symptoms, common signs include sore, swollen gums that bleed during brushing and flossing.

The infection of the gums breaks down the gum tissue, and if left untreated, it can lead to a more serious infection that spreads to the bone.

Gum Disease Symptoms

Infection and inflammation can progress without pain or noticeable symptoms. This is why regular visits to your Smile approved dentist are necessary to maintain good oral health and avoid disease.

While the symptoms of gum disease can be subtle, the condition itself has warning signs. Visit a dentist immediately if you notice any of the following signs of gum disease:

  • Blood on toothbrush or dental floss
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Constant bad breath
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of your partial dentures.

Even if you are not experiencing any obvious symptoms, you may still have some form of gum disease. Only a dentist can recognise and determine the progression of gum disease.

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What Causes Gum Disease?

The main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque. As plaque constantly forms on your teeth each day, it is important that you thoroughly brush and floss your teeth daily in order to remove it. If you don’t, it can build up and cause disease. Other factors that can affect the health of your gums include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Diseases such as diabetes
  • Medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
  • Poorly fitted bridges
  • Crooked teeth
  • Defective fillings
  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Poor nutrition.

How is Gum Disease Diagnosed?

Gum disease can be diagnosed through a periodontal exam with your Smile-approved dentist. During this examination, your gums will be checked for swelling, bleeding and firmness and your teeth will be checked for sensitivity and movement. The bone supporting your teeth will be examined with X-rays.

A periodontal probe will determine the progress of your gum disease. The probe is gently inserted into the gums and pockets surrounding the teeth to measure the depth of the pocket. Deeper pockets indicate greater severity.

The pockets should be less than 3 millimetres deep in healthy gums, with gums tight against the teeth with pink tips. Pockets measuring 3 millimetres to 5 millimetres usually indicate disease. Tartar could be spreading below the gum line and there may be some bone loss. Pockets measuring 5 millimetres or more often reveal a serious condition likely including receding gums and a larger amount of bone loss.

After the evaluation, your approved dentist or periodontist will make treatment recommendations. Treatment for gum disease varies depending on how severe the disease is.

Can Gum Disease Be Treated?

Gum disease can be cured with professional dental treatment. While you can reduce your symptoms and the progress of your disease by brushing and flossing daily, the only way to remove infection and save your teeth is to visit your approved dentist. The sooner you seek treatment, the better.

What Gum Disease Treatments are Available?

The purpose of gum disease treatment is to control the existing infection and to halt the development of the disease. While correct oral hygiene and healthy eating are home care options, the only way to cure gum disease is to see a professional dentist. Your approved dentist can treat the bacteria and restore supportive tissues in the case of more serious damage.

It is important to have regular check-ups to assess the health of your teeth and gums. At your check-up, your approved dentist will examine the plaque and tartar of your teeth and gums. If you are showing symptoms of gingivitis, your dentist might returning for cleanings more frequently than every 6 months.

Scaling and Root Planing

If your dentist concludes that there is some bone loss or that your gums are receding, the common treatment is a rigorous deep cleaning, non-surgical method known as scaling and root planing (SRP).

Scaling involves scraping the plaque and tartar away from below and above the gum line. Root planing smooths uneven spots on the tooth root where bacteria accumulates. This smooth and clean surface assists the gums in reattaching to the teeth.


This treatment consists of scraping away unhealthy gum tissue from the infected area and then allowing it to heal.

Flap Surgery

Here your dentist will lift the gums away and remove the tartar as needed. They will then sew the gums back in position so the tissue fits firmly around the teeth. This procedure also decreases the size of the pocket, giving bacteria less room to grow back.

Bone Grafts

If your bone has been damaged due to periodontitis, bone grafts will be used to replace it. Small pieces of bone (either your own, donated or synthetic) will be positioned where the original bone was eroded. These grafts work as a platform for the bone to regrow from as well as restoring stability to your teeth.

Soft Tissue Grafts

Soft tissue grafts can be used to fill in gaps where gums have receded or to strength the gums. Grafted tissue is generally removed from the roof of the mouth and then stitched over the affected area.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

This treatment works by stimulating gum tissue and bone growth. Performed along with flap surgery, a little piece of mesh-like fabric is placed in between the gum tissue and the bone. This prevents the gum tissue from growing into the space where the bone needs to be, allowing the bone and its connecting tissue to grow back and properly support the teeth.

Bone (Osseous) Surgery

Advanced or moderate bone loss can often cause shallow craters in the bone. This treatment smooths these craters by reshaping the tooth after flap surgery, making it more difficult for bacteria to accumulate and grow.


Your dentist may prescribe you medications in pill form to assist in killing the bacteria that cause gum disease. Antibiotic gels, fibres and chips can also be directly applied to the infected area. Occasionally, a dentist might prescribe an anti-germ mouth rinse containing the chemical chlorhexidine that controls plaque and gingivitis.

Your approved dentist will determine which treatment method is most suitable for your circumstances.

Gum Disease Treatment Costs

The cost of gum disease treatment is dependent on your individual circumstances. The severity of your gum disease will determine which treatment method is required. members save 15% to 40% off all dental treatment, every time they visit a approved dentist. Plus, there's no benefit limits, no waiting periods, no treatment exclusions and no claiming rebates. Join for under $100 per year and start saving immediately. 

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Are There Any Alternative Options for Treating Gum Disease?

Treatment at home through proper brushing and flossing are important to remove plaque from the teeth and gums. While brushing assists to eliminate plaque on the surface of the teeth, flossing helps to remove plaque from between the teeth and beneath the gum line. Used regularly as a part of your daily oral health care regime, brushing and flossing can help to prevent and decrease the symptoms of gum disease.

While at home care is important for removing bacteria and reducing the risk of gum disease, gum disease can only be cured by a professional dentist.

How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

You can prevent gum disease by taking proper care of your teeth and following good oral hygiene practices. You should:

  • Brush twice daily for 3 minutes and floss every day. Your approved dentist can teach you the correct techniques for brushing and flossing.
  • Always use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Daily mouth rinses that contain fluoride are also recommended.
  • Choose a toothbrush with bristles that are soft and polished. These have a lower chance of irritating or injuring the gum tissue.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
  • Eat healthily, avoiding high-sugar snacks and junk food whenever possible.
  • Avoid smoking. Cigarettes (as well as chewing tobacco) irritate the mouth and are very bad for the health of your teeth and gums.

Good oral hygiene and dental care are crucial for keeping your mouth healthy. Visit your approved dentist for routine care, especially cleaning, at least twice a year. Your dentist can remove hardened plaque and any tartar that you're missing with brushing and flossing alone.

Gum disease will not go away by itself or simply by improving your at-home care. The only way to remove plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleaning. Once you have had a gum problem, you will always be susceptible to recurring problems, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis, every three to four months, unless they recommend otherwise.

What Are the Benefits of Treatment?

The benefits of receiving professional dental treatment for your gum disease include:

  • Eliminating painful symptoms
  • Eliminating unsightly swelling and discolouration
  • Reducing or eliminating loose teeth
  • Reducing bad breath
  • Promoting healthy teeth and gums.

If you are experiencing gum disease, don’t wait any longer to seek the dental treatment you need.

What Happens if I Avoid Gum Disease Treatment?

If you choose to avoid treatment and allow your gum disease to progress, there is a chance that you will lose your teeth. The infection dissolves the bone that is supporting your teeth and the teeth eventually come lose and fall out. Gum disease can also lead to more serious problems in other parts of the body if left untreated.

Can Gum Disease Lead to Other Health Problems?

There is a strong link between poor oral hygiene and poor overall health. As the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, disease and infection can spread rapidly if not treated. The bacteria that causes gum disease can enter the blood stream and travel through the entire body. This can lead to health issues such as:

  • Lung Infections in people with chronic lung diseases
  • A weakened immune system
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Infective endocarditis
  • Diabetes
  • Spontaneous pre-term births.

These serious health problems can be avoided if you treat your gum disease and eliminate the progress of the infection. With dental cover you can save on the regular oral health care that you need with a professional dentist, join today.

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