Have you ever had that nightmare where your teeth have fallen out then you’ve woken up and checked in the mirror that they are still there?
This can become a reality unless we make sure our gums are in good health. Gum disease is the 6th most prevalent disease in the world and it’s the major cause of tooth loss in adults. It often goes unnoticed and can be present for years without diagnosis or treatment.
There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and is reversible, whereas periodontal disease is inflammation of the supporting tissues of the tooth causing them to breakdown and is largely irreversible. When we talk about gum disease in the rest of this blog,I am talking about periodontal disease (the scary one nightmares are made of!)
Have you got gum disease?
These are some of the signs of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen, inflamed gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Pus coming from the gums
What causes it?
Periodontal disease is caused by groups of bacteria that are present in your mouth and sit under the gum margin on the surface of your teeth forming plaque. If left, they can grow in number and make their way under the gum and become hard (tarter). They produce toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums and cause inflammation which can then go on to result in damage to the tissues and bone that hold the teeth. This is one reason why it’s so important to make sure we clean our teeth properly.
However, not everyone with plaque gets this disease and there are many risk factors making some people more vulnerable to getting the disease. These are:
- Other medical conditions
Recent research has also found links between periodontal disease and heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Periodontal disease can even affect your insulin levels if you are a diabetic. So, it’s essential we try to keep your gum health under control for dental and general health.
What should you do to prevent it?
- Make regular visits to your dentist for a dental health check where your gums will be screened for signs of gum disease.
- Attend appointments with your hygienist for a regular professional clean to remove any tarter and take advice so you can maintain high standards of cleaning at home.
- Brush and clean in between your teeth twice daily to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
- Reduce your risk by addressing factors such as smoking and controlling diabetes.
For more advice on good teeth-cleaning techniques, read our blog on Interdental cleaning.
What do you do if you think you have gum disease?
The best thing to do is to arrange an appointment with your dentist to get checked. If you do have periodontal disease then with your dentist you can form a plan on how to treat and manage it. Treatment usually involves cleaning the root surfaces under the gum and removing as much bacteria as possible; however, it’s important to remember that success is also down to you cleaning your teeth regularly to a very high standard.
Once your periodontal disease has been treated it can come back and so a maintenance plan will be made with your dentist which may include extra hygiene appointments and ensuring your teeth cleaning routine at home is as thorough as possible.
Make sure you visit your dentist regularly so they can screen for gum disease and that you keep your teeth clean to avoid a nightmare becoming a reality!
Dr. Dannick Jethwa has been the Principal of Spondon Dental Practice in Derby since 2008. Dannick has completed diplomas in restorative dentistry and also with the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He’s also a member on the Derby City Local Dental Committee, representing general practitioners in the area. In 2011, he was awarded ‘Best Young Dentist’ in the Midlands and UK.