If you develop gingivitis and do not have the plaque or tartar (hardened plaque) removed from your teeth, the condition may get worse and lead to periodontitis.
You may develop further complications if you do not treat periodontitis, where the tissue that supports teeth is affected.
- 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 have recurring cases in the future.
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 occurs when tissue starts to die and waste away.
If you develop gangrene, you may need to have the dead tissue removed.
Gum disease has also been associated with an increased risk for a number of other health conditions, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- lung infections
- premature labour and having a baby with a low birth weight if you're affected during pregnancy
But while people with gum disease may have an increased risk of these problems, there's not currently any clear evidence that gum disease directly causes them.
Page last reviewed: 19 February 2019
Next review due: 19 February 2022