What is gum disease?
Gum disease is the swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main types of gum disease: “gingivitis” and “periodontal disease”.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when you brush them.
What is periodontal disease?
Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone fixing the teeth to the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
What causes gum disease?
All gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease you need to brush your teeth, and clean in between the teeth with interdental brushes or floss.
People who smoke are more likely to have gum disease. Smoking may change the type of bacteria in dental plaque, increasing the number of bacteria that are more harmful. It also reduces the blood flow in the gums and supporting tissues of the tooth and makes them more likely to become inflamed. Because of the reduced blood flow smokers may not get the warning symptoms of bleeding gums as much as non-smokers.
What happens if gum disease is not treated?
Unfortunately, gum disease usually develops painlessly so you do not notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this is what makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses (gumboil), and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more difficult.
What treatment is needed?
There is no quick cure for gum disease. It is going to need regular visits to the hygienist (initially every 3 months) and maintenance at home. You’ll also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively.
We have hygienist’s working at the practice who are here to help you improve your oral health and maintain your gums.
Once I have had periodontal disease, can I get it again?
Periodontal disease is never cured, but it can be controlled as long as you keep up the home care you have been taught. Any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether. However, you must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups by the dentist and hygienist.
What can I do at home?
Get an electric toothbrush! Clinical research shows that a toothbrush with an oscillating head will remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush. We recommend Oral B toothbrushes here at the practice.
Never brush your gums or teeth too hard or use firm bristles, this will do more damage and will lead to gum recession.
A good oral-care routine at home, with brushing and interdental cleaning, is the most important thing you can do to help prevent gum disease getting worse.