Complications - Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis)

If you have gingivitis and do not have the plaque or tartar removed from your teeth, the condition may get worse. This can lead to periodontitis.

If you do not treat periodontitis, the tissue that supports your teeth may be affected.

This can lead to:

  • recurrent gum abscesses (painful collections of pus)
  • increasing damage to the periodontal ligament (the tissue that connects the tooth to the socket)
  • increasing damage to and loss of the alveolar bone (the bone in the jaw that contains the sockets of the teeth)
  • receding gums
  • loose teeth
  • loss of teeth

Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis

If you have acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) and it's not treated, it can cause more severe complications.

The infection can spread to all areas of your gums and the alveolar bone surrounding your teeth.

This can lead to:

  • the gums between your teeth being completely destroyed
  • large ulcers (open sores) leaving permanent holes in your gums
  • loose and unstable teeth

If ANUG is not properly treated the first time you have it, you're more likely to get it again.

This can cause persistent bad breath (halitosis) and bleeding gums, as well as gradually receding gums.

In rare cases, ANUG can lead to gangrene affecting the lips and cheeks. This happens when tissue starts to die and waste away. If you develop gangrene, you may need to have the dead tissue removed.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 23 March 2021
Next review due: 23 March 2024

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