Gum disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissue which is caused by plaque build up on the teeth. There are two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. The leading cause of gum disease is lack of dental hygiene including brushing and flossing teeth.
The Two Stages Of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Initially, gums may feel swollen and appear increasingly red. During brushing, the gums may even appear to bleed, thus becoming painful and uncomfortable. If gingivitis is not treated correctly, it may transition to a more severe form of the disease, periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease where the infection spreads to the supporting bone and fibre which hold the tooth in place. At this stage, the damage caused may be permanent, thus causing further problems down the track.
At this severe and advanced stage of gum disease, the gum is weakened to the point where a small gap may form between the tooth root and the gum. This gap is called the ‘periodontal pocket’, where bacteria can get trapped, causing even more irreversible damage to the gums and teeth.
In the worst case scenario, teeth may become loose and fall out, or in severe cases, be extracted by a dentist.
How To Know If You Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can occur at any stage of life. Symptoms to look out for may include:
- Inflamed, red, swollen gums
- Increased sensitivity or pain in gums, especially when brushing teeth.
- Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
- Receded gums, making particular teeth appear ‘longer’
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
How To Treat Gum Disease
It is important if you do recognise any symptoms of gum disease, to seek professional help as soon as possible. At Cranbourne Dental Centre, we inspect the plaque and tartar build up, and clean where needed. In the case of gingivitis, we will instruct on the correct dental hygiene technique.
In the case of periodontitis, further action may be required. Non-surgical treatment includes antibiotics to treat any infection and root planning; this includes smoothing over root surfaces, discouraging any further tartar and bacteria build up.
Surgical treatments include gum pocket reduction surgery, reducing the size of any open gum tissue. Soft tissue and bone grafts are another option, to reinforce damaged tissue or bone, to reduce further damage in the future.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Gum disease is completely preventable and with a few easy steps, it is easy to reduce your likelihood of any infection.
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day, for on average 2 minutes.
- Using a soft toothbrush to reduce pressure and replacing their toothbrush every 3-4 months.
- Better yet, an electric toothbrush is a fantastic option to increase efficiency and cleanliness
- Flossing once a day to remove hard to see and reach plaque buildup.
- Consuming a healthy diet and reducing sugar intake
- Regular dental check-ups