Gum disease is a condition common in adults that causes the gums to bleed and to become sore, swollen, or even infected.
If you think you might have gum disease, read on to know more about its symptoms and causes and how you can get treatment.
What is gum disease?
The term “gum disease” covers the early or milder stage of the disease, also known as gingivitis, and the later, more severe stage of the disease, which is periodontitis or periodontal disease.
It describes a condition ranging from sore or bleeding gums through to loss of supportive tissue and bone and the possibility of tooth loss too.
What are the symptoms?
If you have gum disease, you might notice that your gums bleed when you are brushing your teeth or feel sore. You may also develop bad breath.
These symptoms are often the signs of early-stage gum disease or gingivitis. Fortunately, gingivitis can be treated and reversed.
However, it’s worth noting that you may not have any soreness or discomfort at all and may not be able to detect gum disease by yourself.
This is why regular dental check-ups are so important.
What are the complications?
If you don’t seek treatment for your gum disease, you might go on to develop periodontitis. This is a serious infection of the gums that harms the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. You might also develop receding gums or gum abscesses.
Periodontitis can also result in your teeth becoming loose and falling out.
Unfortunately, periodontitis cannot be reversed; it can only be treated and stabilised.
Who is affected by gum disease?
Gum disease mainly affects adults. It is rarely seen in children.
You are more likely to develop gum disease if you have poor dental hygiene, are a smoker or have diabetes.
What causes gum disease?
If you don’t brush your teeth regularly enough, or if you have poor brushing technique, this can cause plaque, a sticky, bacteria-carrying film, to develop on your teeth.
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of this plaque.
How can I prevent gum disease?
Regular brushing (at least twice a day) and flossing will prevent plaque from building up to the extent that it irritates your gums and causes gum disease.
You should also visit your dentist regularly so that they can detect any early signs of gum disease. This is especially important if you are in any of the categories of people who are more prone to gum disease.
Your dentist will clean your teeth thoroughly and eliminate tartar, which is hardened plaque.
What treatments are available?
There are several simple ways gum disease can be treated effectively in the early stages.
Your dentist may start with recommending a special mouthwash to help improve your gum health.
They may observe your regular oral health routine and suggest changes and improvements as necessary.
If tartar is present on your teeth, your dental hygienist can remove it with special cleaning techniques (a scale and polish).
If your gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, your dentist may carry out one or a series of deep cleaning sessions to get rid of the tartar build-up under your gums. This is called root planing or debridement and can be done under local anaesthesia.
Your dentist is then likely to suggest a maintenance plan of regular cleaning and the use of medicated mouthwash and special brushes to clean the small gaps in between your teeth.
In some severe cases, periodontal surgery will be necessary, which might involve removing a tooth or teeth.
Investing in your dental health is the best way to prevent conditions such as gum disease. So if you suspect you might have gum disease or simply want to book a regular check-up, reach out to our friendly team to book an appointment.