Defining gum disease
Gum disease is an insidious condition that can go undetected for many years if dental appointments are avoided. Generally there is a soreness or swelling of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
In recent years gum disease has been linked with health conditions such as diabetes, strokes, cardiovascular disease, poor pregnancy outcomes and even dementia. Research is ongoing but there is more and more evidence emerging that healthy gums can help improve general health.
What is gingivitis?
Inflammation of the gums defines gingivitis. A telltale sign is bleeding gums, especially when brushing. Often they become swollen and red around the teeth.
What is periodontal disease?
Gingivitis, if untreated, can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of ‘perio’ disease and they all affect the clever supporting tissues of the teeth. As the disease progresses the bone anchoring the teeth is eroded and the teeth become mobile. Left untreated, teeth will fall out.
Symptoms of gum disease
The first sign of gum disease is blood on your toothbrush or in the sink after rinsing when you clean your teeth. Gums may also bleed while eating leaving a bad taste in the mouth and breath can also become unpleasant. In later stages deeply rooted infections can set up and cause an abscess.
What causes gum disease?
Plaque, a film of bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth, is the main culprit. Brushing and cleaning in between the teeth with fine interdental brushes or floss helps prevent the build-up.
I am a smoker
Science tells us that smoking hugely increases the risk of gum disease with smokers more likely to produce bacterial plaque. Smoking causes reduced oxygen levels in the bloodstream so the infected gums don’t heal.
Gum care – what treatments?
Our dentists or hygienist will remove all of the plaque and tartar from the affected teeth. Central to gum care and good maintenance will be teaching our patients how they can remove plaque successfully themselves. Once teeth are clean it may be decided to treat the roots to ensure that the last pockets of bacteria are removed. This is called root planing.
Can periodontal disease be cured?
There is no cure for periodontal disease, but it can be well controlled so that teeth can be kept for many years. Key will be regular dental appointments and doing exactly as our dentists and hygienist instruct regarding your oral cleaning routine.