Woman suffering from gum disease

Don’t Let Gum Disease Keep You From Your Best Health

Have you ever wondered why your gums bleed when you floss? Do your gums look swollen and red or feel painful after brushing?

It’s surprising how many patients experience these symptoms yet don’t realise it’s a problem that should be addressed. Tender, swollen or bleeding gums are a common sign of gum disease.

Also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, gum disease is a condition where the tissue surrounding a tooth becomes inflamed and infected.Our mouth is full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with other mucus and particles, form a sticky, colourless plaque on our teeth. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of this plaque.

Left untreated, it can lead to severe infection and long-term tooth loss, even contribute to diseases elsewhere in the body.That’s a pretty compelling reason to brush up on gum disease and how to treat it.

 

What Are the Types of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is actually a progressive disease. It presents in two main stages:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It affects the surface layer of the gum, particularly where the gum meets the tooth. Gingivitis causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this point, there is no damage to the deeper parts of the gums, teeth or bone.

Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. The diseased gum that supports a tooth pulls away to form a space, also known as a periodontal pocket. Bacteria gets trapped in these pockets, causing infection and further damage to the gum, bone and ligaments. In severe cases, gum disease can cause permanent bone damage, and teeth can become loose and fall out.

Gum disease xray result

 

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is often painless and symptoms can go unnoticed. One of the first signs of an infection includes bleeding when you brush and floss. This may happen in one area or across many teeth.

Other tell-tale signs of gum disease include:

  • Tender, swollen or red gums
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Shifting or loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Deep pocketing or pus between your gums and teeth
  • Changes to the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, you should make an appointment to see a dentist. Getting treatment early can help save teeth that are at risk from gum disease and other conditions.

Dentist explaining a gum disease problem to its patient

 

What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

You might be wondering, why is this happening? Gum disease is generally the result of poor oral hygiene. But there can be other causes that you can discuss with your dentist.

  • Smoking.
    The excessive pollutants from cigarettes can elevate the progress of gum disease and make it difficult for the gum tissue to repair itself.
  • Hormonal changes.
    Pregnancy, menopause, puberty and menstruation can cause the gums to be more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Genetics.
    Research shows that some people may be genetically predisposed to developing gum disease.
  • Medical conditions.
    People suffering from cancer, diabetes or immunosuppressive illness are a higher risk for developing infections, including cavities and gum disease.
Explaining the different gum disease problems in an xray chart

 

How Do You Treat Gum Disease?

The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. Your treatment options will depend on the extent of the gum disease.

 

Treatment For Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the only stage of gum disease that is reversible. Making changes to the quality of your dental home care, like brushing and flossing, giving up smoking, and improving your diet will improve your current gum health and reduce your risk of future disease.

The only way to remove plaque that has hardened into tartar is to see a dentist or dental hygienist. Your dentist will perform a thorough professional cleaning, known as scaling, to remove any build up. You’ll be given a home care regime to ensure the infection doesn’t return while the gums are healing.

 

Treatment For Periodontitis

Mild periodontitis is usually treated with a two-part deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing. Scaling removes the plaque and tartar from teeth above the gum line, while root planing goes beneath the gumline to clear tartar from the root surface.

For more advanced gum disease, there are a range of treatment options that you can talk to your dentist about:

  • Prescription:
    Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, antifungals and gels to help eliminate gingival bacteria and stop the progress of the disease.
  • Surgery.
    Severe periodontitis often requires surgery to remove hard-to-reach tartar. After this procedure, the gum tissue will be fit to heal against the tooth, reducing the space for bacteria and tartar to grow.
  • Bone grafts.
    If there has been bone or gum tissue loss, bone tissue can be grafted to create a platform for regrowth and stability.

In severe cases, some teeth may be too loose to save and your dentist may need to extract them.

Essential care dental dentist doing a gum disease treatment

 

How Do You Prevent Gum Disease?

As with many other medical conditions, prevention is key. With the right oral hygiene at home, you can ensure your gums stay as healthy as possible.

  • Brush your teeth carefully twice a day—in the morning and before going to bed.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss after meals to help remove food and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit sugary foods and drinks and saturated fats.

 

Have a Regular Dental Check-Up

By scheduling regular dental check-ups, the early stage of gum disease can be detected and treated before it becomes serious. We recommend visiting a dentist every six months to check up on your dental health.

If you have periodontal disease, you may require extra care. We usually see patients every three months in our Graceville dental clinic to measure the gum pockets and take x-rays to assess bone level.

Women smiling after Essential Care treat her gum disease problem

 

It’s Never Too Late to Look After Your Health

Our dental clinic in Graceville and servicing Sherwood, Corinda, Oxley and surrounding areas can provide you with a personalised dental care plan to help you achieve a happier, healthier smile. If you think you may be suffering from gum disease, talk to the Essential Care Dental team today. We’d love to hear from you.

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