Gum disease is the most common oral ailment requiring treatment and can afflict individuals from a very early age through the elderly years. Known as Periodontitis, gum disease, if left untreated, can result in tooth and jaw bone loss and severe infection.
Although extremely common (50-90% of adults suffer from it), gum disease is also one of the most easily preventable and treatable issues in dentistry. Pursuing and maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine can, in itself, ward off gum disease for a lifetime.
Gum disease, sometimes referred to as gingivitis by your dentist, is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth due to poor or irregular oral hygiene. Plaque develops on the tooth surface when food debris combines with the natural bacteria in the mouth. This process helps in digestion, but also leaves a bacteria-laden film on the teeth. This film, if not removed through good brushing habits, will eventually harden into plaque and then into the hard crust known as tartar, which must be removed by your dental hygienist.
Plaque and tartar build-up traps bacteria onto the tooth surface, irritates the gums and produces an environment that is ripe for infection and decay.
Healthy gums should be firm, pink and hold the teeth securely in place. Additionally, they should not bleed or be tender to the touch.
Any change in the colour, shape, or tenderness of your gums should be reported to your dentist.
The first symptoms most commonly experienced in the beginnings of gum disease are:
Additional symptoms may be experienced, if the initial symptoms are not treated immediately:
Gum disease is the most easily avoided oral ailment and yet is also the most commonly experienced. Adults must maintain effective, regular oral hygiene routines, including regularly scheduled visits to their dentist and dental hygienist to ensure they remain free of gum disease.
Gum disease normally is a slowly developing problem that can be arrested, cured and recovered from if your dentist is alerted as soon as you experience any symptoms. If you maintain regular dentist visits, your dentist will include gum disease prevention examinations that further protect you from suffering this very preventable health issue.
Your dentist has a number of very effective tools and examination procedures to diagnose if you have gum disease, including:
Your dentist will inform you of the extent of your gum disease and the recommended course of treatment to regain your oral health.
As always, the sooner you involve your dentist in the health of your gums, the less extensive and involved your gum disease treatment is likely to be – and the sooner you will heal.
A number of gum disease treatments are available to resolve your gum disease problems. Your dentist will discuss the treatments that are best recommended for your stage of gum disease, and may include:
Gum disease can be avoided through preventative routines that protect your gums from disease by not allowing bacteria to collect on gum tissue and tooth surfaces.
A few simple and efficient oral hygiene steps can keep you and your smile safe from gum disease, ensuring robust oral health for a lifetime: