What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that is extremely common and data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that nearly half the adult population aged 30 or over has some form of periodontal disease (gum disease). It is a very destructive condition that can cause gum recession and which can destroy the ligaments and bone surrounding teeth. Gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss and is often caused by poor oral hygiene. You are at risk of developing gum disease if you fail to brush and floss regularly, allowing plaque bacteria to build up on your tooth surfaces and to infect your gums. The infection prompts an inflammatory response from the body which is responsible for destroying the tissues surrounding your teeth. The good news is that gum disease is completely curable when caught quickly enough, which is why we suggest regular check-ups and hygiene appointments for all our patients.
Signs of Gum Disease
One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bleeding gums, or you might notice your gums look red or swollen or feel sore. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and treatment to cure it is very straightforward.
Gum Disease Treatment
We can often treat gingivitis with a simple hygiene appointment which will remove the tartar and bacterial infection in your gums, enabling them to heal more easily. This gum disease treatment is combined with improved oral care at home. You will need to brush thoroughly at least twice a day and you must floss once-a-day. Initially this may cause your gums to bleed but it is important to persevere as within a few weeks the bleeding should cease as the gums become healthier and stronger.
If you don’t manage to catch gum disease at this stage then it will progress into a condition called periodontitis that is much more destructive and which may require ongoing gum disease treatment to control. By this stage the gums will have begun to pull away or recede, creating pockets of infection in between the teeth and gums. Periodontitis or advanced gum disease can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the severity of the condition, but most gum disease treatment plans will include a procedure called scaling and root planning.
This is similar to a hygiene appointment but will help to deep clean the gums. During this gum disease treatment your teeth will be scaled with ultrasonic hand tools to remove tartar, as will any exposed root surfaces. The exposed tooth root surfaces can be slightly roughened due to the infection and the action of scaling the teeth. These rougher surfaces are smoothed or planed which make it harder for bacteria to adhere, enabling the gums to heal more easily. This reduces the size of the gum pockets or gaps in between the teeth and gums so they will begin to fit more tightly around the teeth. There are a number of other gum disease treatments that can be useful for advanced gum disease, including laser dentistry to remove diseased tissues and to reduce infection.
All forms of gum disease deserve to be taken very seriously as numerous clinical studies have connected advanced gum disease to a number of general health conditions. Ensuring you have healthy gums can help to protect your general health so it’s well worth the effort.