Around three quarters of adults in the UK are affected by it in some way, with most people experiencing it at least once in their lifetime. Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss amongst adults.
Gum disease is caused by plaque gradually building up on the surface of the teeth and gums each day. No matter how well you look after your teeth, it is impossible to stop this build up with regular brushing and flossing alone. This is why dental check ups and hygiene appointments are so important.
As plaque builds over time it becomes hard and forms tartar. As this happens, your gums will start to react to the build up of bacteria and become irritated or inflamed. They can also change colour, becoming darker pink or red. If left untreated, the gum disease can progress and cause the bone holding the tooth in place to start to erode away. This can lead to teeth becoming loose or even falling out completely.
Healthy teeth rely on healthy gums for support. When your gums are healthy, they are pink and firm, with all teeth feeling secure. Gum disease causes sensitivity, pain, bleeding and puffy gums, infection and eventually loss of teeth. More teeth are lost through gum disease than through tooth decay.
We don’t always feel or notice the onset of gum disease, so the only way to monitor it is with regular visits to your dentist and hygienist.
Gum disease does not always cause pain. The most common sign is bleeding gums, which may happen when brushing your teeth or eating, and bad breath. These indicate the early stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis.
If your gums are healthy, they shouldn’t bleed!
It is important to treat signs of gum disease as soon as they are spotted to avoid them developing into a more serious issue, such as a gum abscess or tooth loss.
There are a number of signs to look out for:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, or are concerned about anything at all, please contact your dentist or hygienists for a thorough examination.
If you have gum disease, you will need a thorough clean under the gums of the root surfaces to remove bacterial deposits. This treatment is usually conducted under a local anaesthetic so you feel comfortable throughout. We will also give you instructions on how to clean your teeth and gums effectively to try and prevent gum disease from returning.
If your gum disease is quite advanced, you may need to be referred to a periodontist. A periodontist is a specialist dentist who diagnoses, prevents and treats gum disease. Most dentists are experienced in mild to moderate gum disease, but more complex cases are best handled by a periodontist, who will have the expertise to provide treatment to help you manage the condition and keep your teeth intact.
Overall, prevention of gum disease is the best cure. However, early detection is the best way to prevent it from advancing and offers the best chance of saving your teeth.
There are a number of factors which can help reduce the risk:
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