What is gum disease?
The signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, soreness of the gums and the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. The first sign is often bleeding gums when brushing the teeth and the gums become very red and swollen. You may also experience a bad taste in your mouth and an unpleasant smell.
What is periodontal disease?
If gum disease is left untreated it can turn into periodontal disease. This affects the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease progresses the bone around the teeth is lost, the teeth then become loose. If the disease is not treated at this stage, the teeth may eventually fall out. The majority of people are not aware that more teeth are lost trough periodontal disease than through tooth decay.
Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?
Most people suffer from some form of gum disease at some stage in their life, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. As it is a slow developing disease in most people it can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life with a good cleaning regime at home and regular checks from your dentist and hygienist.
What is the cause of gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. To prevent gum disease you need to make sure you remove all the plaque which accumulates on your teeth daily. This is done by brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease.
How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?
Smoking can also make gum disease worse. The gum’s ability of repair and defense is diminished by the content of tobacco smoke.
What happens if gum disease is not treated?
Because gum disease can progress painlessly you are not always aware of the damage it causes. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more difficult or impossible.
What do I do if I think I have gum disease?
Firstly you should visit your dentist for a thorough check up of your teeth and gums .Your dentist may take x-rays to assess the bone levels around the teeth. This is usually an indication of whether gum disease is present. The dentist can measure the ‘cuff’ of gum around each tooth with a blunt probe which measure the depths of any ’pocketing’ around the tooth. This assessment is very important, so the correct treatment can be prescribed for you.
What treatments are needed?
Your dental hygienist will clean your teeth thoroughly to remove the scale. You’ll also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may take a number of sessions.
What else may be needed?
Once your teeth are clean, your dentist may decide to carry out further cleaning of the roots of the teeth, to make sure that the last pockets of bacteria are removed.
Once I have had periodontal disease, can I get it again?
If the teeth are not cleaned thoroughly each day plaque will stay on the teeth and without a doubt cause gum disease. It is never cured but it can be controlled; as long as you keep up the home care regime you have been taught. Any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether.