Did you know that three out of 10 adults in Australia have moderate to severe gum disease? This makes it a common condition, affecting many of us.
We’re going to take a look at gum disease in our latest post and explain its causes and how you can prevent it.
We’ll also answer the question “Is gum disease reversible?” as part of our journey.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an oral health condition that refers to inflammation of the gums.
There are two types of gum disease — gingivitis or early gum disease and periodontitis or advanced gum disease.
Gum disease symptoms
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red and inflamed gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Receding gums (where they pull away from your teeth)
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis
Gingivitis is a common and milder form of gum disease.
You may notice that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth and are red and swollen.
If you start treating gingivitis in the early stages, it can usually be reversed.
With periodontitis, gaps can open up between the teeth and gums where bacteria can collect, causing swelling and discomfort.
Your gums may pull away from the teeth, exposing their roots and making your teeth feel sensitive.
In the long term, the bone supporting the teeth may wear down and cause them to become loose and even fall out.
Periodontitis cannot be reversed but only managed with the help of your dentist.
Gum disease causes
Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on your teeth near the gumline. Bacteria in plaque irritates the gums, causing symptoms such as swelling and discomfort.
You are at higher risk of developing gum disease if you:
- Take certain recreational drugs, such as heroin or speed
- Have diabetes
- Are stressed
- Take certain medications — for example, medication that causes a dry mouth
- Follow an unhealthy diet
- Are pregnant
- Are going through puberty
Treatment for gum disease
If your gum disease isn’t advanced, then your dentist can treat it by advising you on a good dental routine to follow at home and giving your teeth a good clean (scale and polish) on a regular basis. This gets rid of hardened plaque (tartar) and bacteria that can accumulate in your mouth.
They may also recommend a special mouthwash to fight the bacteria in your mouth.
With this regime, you can often reverse early gum disease.
If you have periodontitis, your dentist may clean away tartar buildup under your gums — this often involves more than one session.
Your dentist may also offer to scale and polish your teeth on a regular basis, prescribe medicated mouthwash and recommend special brushes to clean in between your teeth.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to reverse advanced gum disease, so these measures are designed to prevent the worsening of your condition rather than to cure it.
How to prevent gum disease
You can prevent gum disease by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Use mouthwash after brushing your teeth.
- Floss your teeth or use interdental toothbrushes once a day.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a checkup.
Worried about gum disease? Visit your local dentist in Te Atatu
If you’re worried about gum disease, there’s no need to suffer in silence. Come along and see the team at Opal Dental, your local dentist for Te Atatu and surrounding areas.
We can assess your symptoms and advise a course of treatment to treat or manage your gum disease.
We can also offer advice on preventing gum disease with a great oral hygiene routine. Remember, prevention is often better than cure.
So reach out today for help with any aspect of your oral health — we’re here to help.