Dental care isn’t just about your teeth. Let’s not forget about the gums in which they sit. In this post, we address the important issue of gum disease.
Gums have an important job to do — they anchor teeth to the jaw bone. And when they become diseased, teeth can loosen or even fall out. For us at Parnell Dentistry, gum disease also makes it very hard to implement some of the restorative solutions we offer.
Types of gum disease
It’s not just older people who experience gum disease. Though rare, children can get it too. And if you’re susceptible, the signs will usually become apparent by the time you are around 20 years of age.
There are two main types of gum disease:
- Gingivitis — this is a precursor to the more serious periodontitis. If gingivitis is setting in, you may experience sore, swollen or bleeding gums. At this stage, no permanent damage will have happened, and damage is reversible.
- Periodontitis — this is the most common cause of tooth loss, and it actually affects around 75% of adults over 35 at some stage in their lives. As dentists, we detect it by measuring around the teeth and looking for pockets where the gum is pulling away from the tooth. The gum will often be bleeding and tender; roots may be exposed and teeth might be starting to wobble.
How to know if you have gum disease
So, what are the signs of gum disease? Unfortunately, there are often few or none at all, which makes it hard to self-diagnose. However, traces of blood in your toothpaste when brushing can be a sign. If your roots are exposed, your teeth may also become sensitive when eating hot, cold, sour or sweet foods — or even when you touch your tooth with a toothbrush or fingernail.
Some things to look out for:
- sore and bleeding gums
- bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- loose teeth
- gum abscesses, which are particularly unpleasant.
How to prevent gum disease
Here’s an analogy: If you had an ulcer the size of your head on your leg you wouldn’t ignore it — we hope. Surprisingly, though, many people do ignore bleeding gums. Don’t be one of those people!
Family susceptibility is a factor that determines whether you’ll get gum disease. There is no cure — no vaccine — so, the sooner it’s diagnosed, the better. Thankfully, if you’re vigilant, there is plenty you can do to prevent gum disease or limit its progression if you already have it.
Do you know that an adult mouth contains 500 to 1000 different kinds of bacteria? This bacteria, as well as mucus and other particles, form plaque on your teeth.
We can’t really prevent this plaque from forming but we should aim to remove it on a daily basis— However, once tartar (hard deposits) are concreted onto the teeth surfaces only professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it once it’s attached.. And the best way to eliminate plaque is to get your teeth cleaned regularly by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Some other ways to prevent or manage gum disease:
- Don’t smoke and if you are currently ask us about help quitting the habit
- Visit a dentist or dental hygienist regularly
- Brush and Floss — do this twice a day to remove food debris and bacteria, which can cause bad breath
- Use mouthwash or chew sugar free gum
- If you have diabetes, aim to keep your blood glucose in the ideal range, as diabetics are more likely to get gum disease and abscesses.
Bone lost due to gum disease can’t always be regenerated. However, sometimes a gum specialist (periodontist) can graft soft tissue or bone for regrowth.
Like most things, prevention is far better than a cure, and visits to your dentist will help to detect, manage and treat gum disease. We’ve seen patients with gum disease manage to stop further progression because they’ve visited their dentist or dental hygienist regularly. If you do have gum disease, with regular dental visits and the right preventative and maintenance care, you can still keep your teeth for decades.
Look after your gums
When was the last time you had your teeth professionally cleaned? Call your dentist to get checked out and discuss a cleaning schedule personalised for you.