Gum Disease


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If you allow plaque to build up, it can harden into tartar which in turn can lead to a range of problems with your gums. Tartar provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and as they reproduce and grow, toxins are produced which can inflame or infect your gums. The less severe type of gum disease is known as gingivitis and doesn't tend to be serious. Periodontitis is the more serious form of gum disease and, if left untreated can lead to you losing your teeth. You can ensure healthy gums by maintaining a good oral hygiene regime including regular brushing and flossing.

Gingivitis

In gingivitis, your gums become inflamed and whilst this usually is not that serious, it can be quite uncomfortable. Gingivitis is typically caused by plaque and can be easily prevented by a decent level of oral hygiene.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is an inflammation occurring around the tooth. It usually occurs when cases of gingivitis are left untreated and progresses to the supporting bone or tissue which joins the teeth and gums together. In many cases of periodontitis, a pocket develops between your tooth and gum. If this is not fixed quickly, it can lead to loosening of the tooth and it will eventually fall out. The extent of the periodontitis is usually measured by checking the depth of the pockets which have formed between your gums and teeth. Whilst some plaque can be removed from the less deep pockets by brushing manually, deeper pockets will need to be seen to by your dentist as manual brushing won't reach the bottom.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

In cases of gingivitis, a mild inflammation of the gums may be noticeable and you may notice some bleeding. If a case of Periodontitis is allowed to develop then the most common symptoms include; highly inflamed, swollen or bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath (halitosis), a nasty taste in the mouth and loosening teeth. It is impossible to completely reverse the damage caused by Periodontitis but in some cases the fibers and bone which have been damaged by the disease will grow back.

Treatment for Gum Disease

Which treatment is right for you will largely depend on how serious your gum disease is. The milder cases of periodontitis are usually treated using a cleaning technique called scaling and root planing. Scaling is used to remove the remaining plaque and tartar from your teeth. It does this by cleaning both above and below the gum line. The root planing procedure smoothes out your roots, which makes it much more difficult for bacteria to live and grow there. If these procedures are used in conjunction with at-home brushing and flossing, this should be enough to stop the disease.

In more severe cases, scaling and root planing won't be enough to fully combat the disease. In cases such as this, surgery may be recommended. There are a number of different surgeries, some designed to reshape your gums to provide a better fit with your teeth, while others are used to stimulate bone growth in damaged areas. In the most severe cases of periodontitis, surgery will almost certainly be required alongside a treatment of antibiotics. Teeth which are unable to be saved may also need to be extracted. If you have any kind of gum disease then it is highly advised to start a regular schedule of brushing and flossing. It is important to contact your dentist if you notice any swelling and bleeding in your gums. The outlook for periodontitis tends to be better the earlier the problem is diagnosed. Once the disease attacks your bone, the prognosis will worsen significantly.

If you are a smoker with gum disease, then it is often recommended that you find a way to quit. Not only will smoking have a huge impact on your oral health in general, it will also interfere with the treatment of gum disease.

Preventing Gum Disease

You can help to prevent gum disease by maintaining a healthy, varied diet and making sure you have a good oral health regime. Most dentists agree you should try to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss as well. Make sure you visit your dentist at least twice a year for check ups. This ensures that any problems can be spotted and treated before they turn into a serious issue.


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Guide to Dental Diseases, Conditions & Surgery