It is estimated that over 50% of the population suffers from gingivitis, and the proportion of sufferers increases with age - around 70% of those over the age of 65 are thought to suffer from the condition. Gingivitis stems from an infection in the gums, which can be easily contracted due to the amount of bacteria that comes into the mouth every day. If oral hygiene is not maintained and an infection occurs, it is likely to worsen and develop into a more severe condition. This can cause more pain and will also be harder to treat.
The first stage of a gum infection is referred to as gingivitis. This is caused by the presence of bacteria on the teeth, which is known as plaque. If plaque is not thoroughly and frequently cleaned away, it will harden and create a substance known as tartar. When tartar is left and builds up, it can irritate the gum where it meets the tooth, and cause bleeding and sometimes infection. This is likely to cause severe gum pain and bleeding, and if left untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease - also known as periodontitis.
This more profound condition is recognized by severe gum disease symptoms. The infection present due to gingivitis can spread and cause abscesses - often appearing in the small gaps between the teeth and gums. These then lead to the infection affecting the jawbone and surrounding tissue. This more severe problem becomes evident because the pain is generally worse, there is increased bleeding, and it can also cause the teeth to become loose and even fall out in extreme cases. It is also likely to produce a foul taste and bad breath.
Another less common gum infection is trench mouth, so called because it was first recognized in World War I, when it was contracted by many soldiers after extended living in the trenches. It is most often a consequence of diminished oral health, a poor diet, or other existing infections in the throat or mouth. Trench mouth tends to become apparent when the sufferer develops multiple mouth ulcers, which occur when the normal bacteria that exist on teeth grow in excess.
Severe gum diseases are likely to cause pain and bleeding, but can usually be assuaged quite quickly if it is caught early on. Find information about the principal cause for gum problems here.