Gum disease (also known as Periodontal disease) is a common and often, painful, inflammatory condition which affects the gums.
It attacks the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth, and in advanced stages, can result in loss of teeth and even affect the jawbone.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gum Disease?
- Bleeding — often the most common symptom; can occur without pain, and is produced when brushing, flossing or eating food
- Swelling — including redness and also pain of the gums
- Gum recession — the appearance of longer looking teeth
- Bad breath — caused by food particles get trapped under the gum line (known as halitosis)
- Pus — a sign of severe periodontitis is when pus can be seen oozing out from the pockets or spaces around the teeth
What Are The Causes Of Gum Disease?
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Chronic stress and poor diet
- Grinding of teeth
- Certain medications
What Types Of Gum Disease Are There?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. The first stage of gum disease is caused by the build-up of plaque. This produces toxins which irritate the gums making them tender, red and inflamed. There is often a small amount of bleeding and is usually noticed by patients who report seeing blood on their toothbrushes.
This is the most common form of periodontal disease seen amongst adults. Chronic Periodontitis is when the inflammation of the supporting tissue causes deep pockets and gum recession. Gum recession is usually visible and results in the appearance that the teeth are lengthening. In actual fact, this is the result of the gums shrinking and receding.
Usually begins in childhood or early adulthood and affects only a small number of people. It tends to be a genetic disease but can affect people without a family history of the disease. Aggressive periodontis causes rapid progression of bone loss and tooth loss if untreated.
Necrotising periodontal disease
Characterised by the death of gum tissue, tooth ligaments and supporting bone caused by lack of blood supply (necrosis), resulting in severe infection. This type generally occurs in people with a suppressed immune system — such as from HIV infection, cancer treatment or other causes — and malnutrition.
Your Gum Disease Treatment
Gingivitis can be treated fairly simply. A good place to start is with a professional cleaning by your dentist or oral hygienist. Follow this up with improved oral hygiene habits including regular brushing and flossing. A healthy diet will also help reduce the chance of recurrence.
Periodonditis also needs a professional clean, which includes deep scaling and root planning to clean between the gums and teeth down the roots. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove all bacteria. Occasionally, soft tissue grafts are required. After treatment, an improved oral hygiene regimen is essential.
How Do I Prevent Gum Disease?
Good oral hygiene habits will aid in avoid issues such as gum disease, bone loss and tooth decay.
Periodontal disease can be prevented and corrected by:
- Controlling build-up of plaque and tartar through daily brushing and flossing
- Using the correct teeth cleaning methods and techniques
- Using the correct aids such as toothbrushes, dental floss and mouth rinses
- Have regular 6-monthly check ups and if necessary, periodontal maintenance at least twice a year from your dentist