Gum Disease is a very common condition, yet people are often unaware they have it. Early diagnosis can make a big difference, so it’s important you recognize the signs and know what to do about them.
Spitting blood when brushing your teeth could be an early sign of gum disease.
WHAT CAUSES GUM DISEASE?
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, on and in between, your teeth. If left unchecked, plaque will irritate the gums leading to redness and soreness. If allowed to continue, gum disease can cause serious problems. The gum may start to come away from the tooth, creating 'pockets' around it where even more plaque can grow. Over time, these pockets deepen, gums continue to recede and teeth can become loose.
There are two main forms of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis.
This is when the bacterial plaque destroys the gums, soft tissue and eventually the bones that hold your teeth, causing them to become loose.
If periodontitis is not treated, your teeth may become loose and have to be removed or they may fall out on their own. In fact, gum disease is a main reason people lose their teeth. Once gum disease gets to this stage, it cannot be reversed but you can help to prevent it from getting any worse with the help of your dentist or hygienist and by improving the way you look after your teeth and gums.
Become really gum smart – Spot the signs early to help prevent gum disease developing further, explore our symptom checker to help you to become really gum smart.
The best ways to try to avoid gum disease
- Everyone should make regular visits to the hygienist.
- Together with brushing and flossing properly, it’s one of the best ways you can try to avoid gum disease.
- More than half of adults across the UK have gum disease, according to NHS estimates.
- But many people don’t realise they have it.
- If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss as well as more serious medical conditions.
- Gum disease has been linked to several major health problems including heart disease and strokes.
- Signs of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth or floss
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Tender or puffy gums
- Bad breath
- Pus from between the teeth and gums
- Receding gums
- Gums that have pulled away from teeth leaving a pocket
- Gaps between teeth that were not there before
- Finding chewing painful
If you recognise any of these signs you should definitely make an appointment with our hygienist.
Our hygienists are passionate about helping patients to prevent gum disease and treating those who have it.
And they are committed to teaching our patients the best daily routines for their lifestyles.
If you do have gum disease, we can help you with…
What are the symptoms?
If you're concerned about gum disease, the first tell is usually spotting blood in your toothpaste when you clean your teeth. Puffy or swollen gums, or gums that are redder than usual can also be a symptom of gum disease. This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.
Symptoms of a more advanced gum disease can include bad breath (also known as halitosis), a consistent foul taste in the mouth, loose teeth and gum abbesses. This stage is known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, and can lead to permanent damage to your gums and bone structure in the jaw.
In this stage, the gums will have pulled away from the teeth which causes infected pockets, and the hardened plaque will have begun to spread below the gum line, causing bacteria to break down the connecting bone and tissue - this is what causes loose teeth. In some cases, periodontitis can be hereditary.
How can I treat gum disease?
Thankfully, the early stages of gum disease are very treatable with good oral hygiene, and can in many cases be entirely reversed. Brushing thoroughly twice a day with regular flossing - at least once a day - is the best way to prevent gum disease. Your dentist might also be able to recommend an anti-bacterial mouthwash if you're particularly concerned.
The later stages of gum disease - periodontitis - can be harder to treat, and requires special attention. Here, the infection is deeper-rooted, and oral surgery may be required to fully remove the infection and replace damaged bone or tissue.
How can I prevent gum disease?
The best way to avoid gum disease entirely is to keep regular appointments with your dentist and hygienist. Opting for a scale and polish will help to remove any food, plaque and tartar build up from above and below the gum line, and regular check-ups will allow your dentist to alert you to any oral health concerns you should be aware of.
You're also at a higher risk of gum disease if you:
- Have diabetes
- Suffer from stress
- On certain types of medication that lesson the flow of saliva
- Suffer from certain illnesses (such as cancer, as the treatment can increase risk)
- Have a family history of gum disease
- Are female, and suffer from hormonal changes