Understanding Gum Disease

Gum disease (gingivitis, periodontitis) damages the tissues supporting the teeth. Dental plaque is the main culprit. Watch out for the first symptoms: bleeding when brushing or sensitivity to the touch of the gums.

Understanding gum disease


The gum disease (or periodontal disease or periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the tooth-supporting tissues. It results in gingivitis then periodontitis. It is due to the accumulation of bacteria between the teeth and their junction with the gum. Bacteria in contact with food form a coating called dental plaque. What are the supports of the teeth? The teeth are implanted in the maxilla (upper jaw) and the mandible (lower jaw). They are supported by the periodontium which is made up of 4 elements:

  • the alveolar bone, resting on the jaw bones, which surrounds and supports the tooth;
  • the alveolo-dental ligament (called desmodont), attaches between the root of the tooth and thealveolar bone. It acts as a shock absorber;
  • the gum, fine and rich in blood vessels, which covers thealveolar bone ;
  • the cement covers the roots of the teeth and allows them to attach to the alveolo-dental ligament.


At the beginning of the disease, the inflammation only affects the gums  : this is the stage of gingivitis . If the process spreads to the ligament andalveolar bonewhich supports and surrounds the tooth, it is then called periodontitis . Gingivitis and periodontitis are involved for 30 to 40% of the causes of tooth extraction or tooth loss .

Gum disease: who is affected? Gum disease, which is very common in adults, increases with age. However, children and adolescents are also affected by periodontal diseases . Many young people in the 15-19 age group experience are bleeding when brushing their teeth due to insufficient oral hygiene to maintain a healthy periodontium.


Plaque is the main cause of gum disease. The dental plaque is a coating formed of salivary proteins, food waste (and sugar acids), and bacteria. This white sticky coating is deposited on the surface of the teeth and gums. The bacteria multiply and cause the densification of dental plaque, which, by calcifying, constitutes tartar . It adheres to the surface of the teeth and can, over time, lead to chronic infection. The dental plaque is favored by insufficient oral hygiene. It can easily be removed by regular brushing of the teeth at least twice a day.



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