Gum Disease – What is it, the symptoms, causes, prevention & how to treat it

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, known as gingivitis or its more advanced stage, periodontal disease, is usually painless and slow to progress, however it can easily reach an advanced stage before you notice any problems. In advanced cases, this can result in deterioration of gums and bone structure and eventually tooth loss.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Healthy gums should look pale pink in colour and fit tightly around your teeth. Symptoms that you may have gum disease can include:

  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Tender or sore gums when touched
  • Gums that are a darker pink, red or purple in colour
  • Bad breath
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
  • Loose or loss of teach
  • Pain when chewing your food
  • Space developing between teeth
  • Receding gums that make your teeth look bigger

What causes gum disease?

In most cases, gum disease starts with plaque — a sticky film composed mainly of bacteria. If left untreated, here’s how plaque can eventually advance to periodontitis:

Plaque forms on your teeth when food interacts with bacteria found in your mouth. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day removes plaque, however it can reform easily.

Plaque can harden into tartar (calculus) if it stays on your teeth for too long. Tartar is also filled with bacteria and is much harder to remove.  The longer that you leave plaque or tartar on your teeth, the more damage it can do. Tartar requires a trip to the dentist to have it properly removed.

Plaque is the most common cause of gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease and is most easily identified as an irritation and inflammation of the gums around the base of your teeth. 

Left untreated, gingivitis can cause periodontal disease, which can cause pockets to develop between your gums and teeth which can fill with more bacteria, plaque and tartar.  If not treated, these deep infections can cause a loss of tissue and bone, and ultimately tooth loss. 

How can gum disease be prevented?

The best way to prevent gum disease is to ensure that you follow a good oral hygiene program – consistently.

  • Good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth for two minutes in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Flossing helps to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of an environment around your teeth where bacteria thrive.
  • Regular dental visits – read more below.

Gum disease treatment – why regular check ups are so important!

Regular dental check-ups are important to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. Even the most dedicated brushers and flossers cannot reach every area of their teeth and gums, which means plaque accumulates and can turn into tartar. As previously stated, if not treated, this tartar can cause gum disease and lead to more serious issues, such as periodontal disease.

Regular check-ups ensure your mouth is properly cleaned and free from tartar and allows a dental professional to monitor your oral health. If a dental issue is detected, your dentist can recommend the appropriate treatment before it progresses to a more serious problem.

 

If you would like to find out more information on gum disease and how to treat it, please click here to ask us any questions or to book in for an appointment.