Gum disease is a major issue and something we, as dentists, spend a lot of our time treating. It affects over 50 percent of adults with natural teeth and can cause real damage if left untreated. Fortunately, if caught in time, a dentist or oral hygienist can catch, manage and reverse the effects of gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
There are three types of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis and acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG). Gingivitis is caused by plaque irritation, causing your gums to become red, swollen and sore. They may also bleed when you brush your teeth.
Periodontitis is the next stage of gingivitis. If you don’t see a dentist and have treatment, the gums can recede from the teeth causing small pockets where more food can become trapped. This further irritates the gum and can cause the tooth and bone to shrink, which is periodontitis.
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a serious gum disease and needs effective dental treatment and possibly antibiotics to manage and cure.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The bacteria in our mouths live on food scraps left on or between our teeth. They consume the food and cause plaque as a byproduct. It is this plaque that causes gum disease.
If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, it causes irritation to the gums and tooth decay, resulting in cavities and gum disease. Essentially, gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. It is entirely avoidable by brushing twice a day, flossing and following your dentist’s advice.
There are lifestyle factors that can also influence the development of gum disease. These include smoking and diabetes, both of which affect the probability and treatment of gum disease. Ask your dentist for more information on this.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
There are several symptoms that may lead you to think you have gum disease. Visiting a dental clinic regularly can also help identify gum disease early and develop a treatment for it.
- Bad breath that is unaffected by brushing
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pain when eating
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
Treatment of Gum Disease
Gum disease is easily preventable; ask your dentist if you need help. Otherwise, treatment can include deep cleaning, root planing, medication or surgical treatment in the most serious cases. Your dentist can advise you on what course of action is going to be most effective when you visit.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease is relatively easy. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day, floss daily, drink water, stay away from sugary food and drink and visit your dentist’s clinic regularly.