Gum Disease – Stages and Terminologies

Our Clapham dental team explains gum disease in its various stages and terms.

Gum disease is common, and most of our patients will suffer from it at some time or another during their life. The term ‘gum disease’ though is a little generic, and it might be useful for patients to take a look at what we mean in more detail.

First of all, let us take a look at some of the more common terminology used when gum disease is suspected.


Plaque is the sticky substance that you sometimes feel on your teeth and gums. This is perhaps more likely to occur in the morning, especially if you have a dry mouth. This plaque is a collection of bacteria that is often present when gum disease occurs. On its own though, having plaque does not mean that you have gum disease, but should be taken as an early warning to improve your oral health regimen.


Providing that plaque is removed regularly and effectively, tartar should not be a problem. When plaque is not removed though, it hardens and bonds to your teeth. When it has reached this stage, you will not be able to remove it through ordinary brushing, no matter how hard you try. Generally, our Clapham hygienist will be the one that removes this hardened tartar from your teeth using specialised equipment.

Stages of gum disease

Whilst plaque and tartar do not necessarily indicate gum disease, it is these bacteria that can cause its onset if allowed to advance. The early stages of gum disease are usually noticeable when the gums bleed or show signs of soreness. If you notice this, you should call Confidental Clinic, Clapham to arrange an appointment to have this investigated. Whilst there may be other causes, it is likely that gum disease is present. This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, and, whilst it should not be ignored, is usually treatable, whether through better oral health care or a scale and polish.

The more serious stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. This can have far more devastating effects as it not only affects the gums, but the jawbone which holds the teeth in position. Whilst this can be rectified by scaling and polishing the teeth deep down to the roots, once the bone has started to deteriorate, it can’t be reversed and tooth loss may follow, depending on the amount of damage done.

Providing that you brush and floss your teeth, and have your mouth checked regularly at our Clapham dental practice, gum disease should not prove to be a major problem. We also recommend hygienist visits from time to time to ensure that you are correctly taking care of your oral health.

To arrange an appointment at the Confidental Clinic, please call us on 020 7801 9060.