Gum disease is a dangerous condition since often it doesn’t make itself known (if you don’t have regular dental check-ups) until it is fairly advanced, by which time you could be in danger of loosing teeth.
You gums act as a barrier to help prevent inflammation in the body, and science has linked gum disease to serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, premature births, low-birth weight babies and stroke.
What causes gum disease?
The main cause of gum disease is a gathering of harmful plaque around your teeth due to poor dental hygiene and/smoking. If you do not remove the plaque from your teeth by brushing them, it builds up and irritates your gums. This can lead to bleeding, swelling and soreness resulting in loss of your gums and bone. The key factors which allow gum disease to progress are:
Poor Oral hygiene: If you are not brushing twice daily and using floss or tepe brushes then food and bacteria will damage the gums.
Smoking – plays an important role in the development and progression of gum disease.
Diabetes – a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become high can cause the gums to deteriorate faster as the body has a reduced immune response to the bacteria
Genetics: There is a strong link for gum disease to run in families so if you suffer from gum disease you must let your whole family know they must see a dentist regularly.
Signs to look out for
Common symptoms are:
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Redness and inflammation of the gum margins
- Pain and discomfort especially when you eat
- Bad taste or breath
- Loosening of your teeth because the infected gums are unable to firmly hold them into place.
Preventing and treating gum disease
Your first port of call is your dentist, since they are trained to identify gum disease. Maintaining a good level of oral hygiene can usually treat mild cases of gum disease. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. You should make sure you and your family attends regularly check-ups.
The dentist will often recommend seeing a hygienist who will help you to regularly maintain the gums through detailed advice and instruction and remove any plaque in the harder to reach areas. Long term maintenance is strongly recommended with hygiene visits every 3-6 months for patients who have gum disease, a history of suffering from gum disease, smokers and if you have medical conditions such as diabetes.
For those suffering from severe gum disease or where treatment is unsuccessful your dentist will give you the option of seeing our in house dentist who has a special interest in managing patients with gum disease or referring you to a specialist in private practice or teaching hospital.
It is also important to mention that periodontists work together with your dentist and other specialists – this team approach keeps you safely guarded.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, have a family history of gum disease or are a regular smoker, its important to have regular check-ups with Saving Smiles – the earlier you catch the problem, the more preventative steps you can take before permanent damage.