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Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that is in plaque, a sticky, colourless film that occurs on your teeth.  If the bacteria are not removed through brushing & flossing it can lead to tooth decay & a condition called gingivitis, an early stage of gum (periodontal) disease where the inflammation of the gum affects the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition that affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It typically begins with the inflammation of the gums, a stage called gingivitis. Gingivitis is often characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums, especially during brushing or flossing.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. In periodontitis, the inflammation extends deeper, causing pockets to form between the gums and teeth. These pockets can accumulate bacteria and lead to damage of the bone and connective tissues supporting the teeth.

Gum disease is primarily caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetic factors, hormonal changes, certain medical conditions, and medications can contribute to the development and progression of gum disease.

Regular dental check-ups, along with good oral hygiene practices such as brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, are essential for preventing and managing gum disease. Early detection and intervention can help maintain healthy gums and prevent complications.

The hard thing about gum disease is that even though it’s a common oral issue it often gets overlooked, it’s also surprisingly sneaky as it doesn’t tend to cause any pain or discomfort. 

Stages of Gum Disease

Stage one: Gingivitis

As offensive as it sounds, it starts of as an inflammation of the gum tissue, which is caused by a build-up of plaque forming on the teeth and gumline.

Gingivitis is the early stages of gum disease.

If you dentists’ diagnoses you with gingivitis, the treatment options are not very invasive.

With a professional dental cleaning and follow up by regular brushing and flossing, gingivitis can usually be reversed.

Stage two: bone burrowing

Periodontitis is the advanced form of gum disease. While it can still be treated, your dental professional may have need to use some more invasive processes, like removing germs and plaque from beneath your gumline or scaling and deep cleaning the surfaces of your roots.

The Periodontitis doesn’t just affect your gums. It can also cause tissue and bone loss throughout the mouth.

 If this has already occurred, you may be referred to a specialist who is a periodontist which can recommend more advanced procedures that help regenerate the bone and tissue you’ve lost.

What causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is primarily caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. When plaque is not effectively removed through regular brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar, leading to inflammation of the gums. This inflammation, known as gingivitis, is the initial stage of gum disease and is characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. In periodontitis, the inflammation extends deeper into the supporting structures of the teeth, causing pockets to form between the gums and teeth. These pockets can harbor bacteria, exacerbating the infection and leading to damage of the bone and connective tissues that support the teeth. Various factors contribute to the development of gum disease, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetic predisposition, hormonal changes, certain medical conditions, and medications that reduce saliva flow. Regular dental check-ups and a thorough oral care routine are crucial in preventing and managing gum disease.

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits such lack of brushing and flossing daily, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during puberty, menopause and pregnancy as they can make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as diabetes, cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system.
  • Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
  • Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.

How do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?

Detecting gum disease involves paying attention to signs and symptoms. Early stages may manifest as red, swollen gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. Persistent bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth can also be indicators. As the disease progresses, gums may recede, creating pockets between teeth, and teeth might feel loose. Regular dental check-ups are crucial for professional assessment, but self-awareness of these symptoms can prompt timely intervention and proper oral care to address and prevent the progression of gum disease. If you notice these signs, consulting with a dentist is advisable for a thorough evaluation and personalized guidance on maintaining gum health.

Firstly, gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common amongst adults. If spotted in its early stages, gum disease can be improved so see an experienced dental professional if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums (the gum line shrinks away from the tooth making teeth look longer)
  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

Good oral hygiene habits start from an early age therefore its important you consult with your dentist early about the best way to look after for your teeth.

 

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