Gum disease is the most common disease present in the adult population of the UK with approximately three quarters of adults having some element of it at any one time.
Gum disease is equivalently the same as a bacterial infection affecting the gums and most importantly the bone which support the teeth.
Your mouth is naturally full of bacteria (around 700 different types- some more damaging than others), which stick to the tooth surfaces creating a coating known as plaque. It is this soft bacteria in plaque that is the most damaging. If left undisturbed by daily brushing the bacteria produce toxins which attack the gums and bone around the teeth. The body then responds just like anywhere else in your body to try and kill the bacteria, but this reponse which is the inflammation (hence bleeding gums) can then cause damage itself. As the bacteria is on the surface of the tooth the body cannot get to it and kill it, so if you do not prevent or treat gum disease the damage simply builds up and worsens over time causing the bone to gradually shrink away. This is why it only becomes apparent in middle to old age; unless you are part of the population who is more susceptible to bone loss, or have a more severe response when younger. This progression is why it is vital to see a dentist and hygienist at regular intervals so your gums and bone levels can be checked and any disease stabilised to prevent tooth loss over time.
Simply- any bleeding from the gums (when brushing or not) is the sign of active disease. The more bleeding that occurs when brushing, and bleeding that occurs just by itself means it is even more active. If allowed to progress then it can develop into increased swelling and soreness from the gums with a bright red appearance to them.
The disease development is split into 2 main stages- gingivits and periodontitis.
This is the most common form of gum disease- inflammed and bleeding gums. Treatment of the early stages of gum disease is very straight forward and treated gingivitis prevents the disease moving onto the next stage of periodontal disease.
Long-standing gingivitis can then turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease that affect the bone supporting the teeth. Aggressive disease can occur in younger people causing significant bone loss around specific teeth. Chronic long standing disease affects the majority of people meaning the disease progresses over time depending on how susceptible each person is to the bone loss element of the disease process. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
In virtually every case the answer is yes. With good oral hygiene using an electiric toothbrush to brush your teeth, interdental brushes and flossing will prevent the plaque building up. Visit your dentist regularly for screening to ensure any gum disease is found at an early stage. To assess the presence of any disease they will use a periodontal probe to see if you have bleeding present, and in which areas, combined with any amount of bone loss present. Once the level of disease has been assessed a plan of action for your gum disease treatment can be put into action. Initially this will usually involve multiple hygienist visits for professional cleaning and root planing if indicated. More importantly it will include extensive advice on the different oral hygiene methds and techniques that are available today, to help you remove the plaque on your teeth day to day. There is no one size fits all as each person is different- and so what size brush/ inter-dental aid suits one person may be totally wrong for the next. Your plan will be bespoke to you and your mouth.
The success and then more importantly long term stability of any gum disease treatment is dependent on you; and the time, care and attention you give to good oral health each and every day. This combined with regular maintenance visits usually on a 3 monthly basis with the hygienist to monitor the stability and prevent any reoccurance of the gum disease. While also encouraging you to keep up with the day to day regime required.
The effects of smoking increases the speed of the disease and the damage that occurs to the bone with while at the same time making the outwardly visible aspects less noticeable by reducing any bleeding from the gums significantly. Therefore the presence of gum disease is often not recognised until teeth are becoming loose and alot of serious damage has already been done.
No- this is an old wives tale from years gone by.
Simply, it is your bodies response to the already existing gum disease present in your mouth. Your response to the bacterial plaque is increased significantly by the extra hormones going around the body during this time. It is known as “pregnancy gingivits” and so excellent gum health and preventative care and monitoring of your gum tissue is important during this time.
Bad breath can be a sign of chronic advanced gum disease with the main cause being poor oral hygiene, with plaque and debris allowed to build up between the teeth.
Unfortunately there is no magic pill for this disease. An antibiotic can only help in situations of acute infections or in very localised sites around a tooth with a periodontal chip or paste.
If you have bleeding gums, receeding gums or loose teeth, call us now for a Consultation- we can help you save your teeth.
The latest modern research has also linked gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease , and more recently with low birth weight babies.
If you have sufferred with gum disease over time then you may well have receeded gums and be looking “long in the tooth”, with dark spaces between the teeth where the gum and bone used to be. For some people this causes a cosmetic issue for which there used to be no simple solution. A different type of veneer treatment has been developed for the gums; in which a soft silicone mask is made to go into the dark spaces and cover the necks of the teeth transforming the overall appearance when smiling.
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