Being diagnosed with gum disease is a scary thought for anyone, and yet is surprisingly common. Most adults in the UK have gum disease to some degree and most people experience it at least once. Whilst we try our very best to take care of our teeth and gums, there are still instances where we could be doing more to prevent issues. In the long term, learning the warning signs of gum disease and acting against it before it progresses is the best way to ensure good oral health for life.
Gum disease is a condition whereby your gums become sore, swollen or infected. It is caused by a build-up of plaque bacteria; a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed it can harden and turn into tartar (calculus). Brushing or flossing cannot remove tartar; a dental professional will need to conduct a dental cleaning to remove it. Unfortunately, gum disease does not usually cause pain as it gets worse, so you do not notice the damage it is doing.
Gum disease starts as gingivitis, whereby you may have bad breath, swollen red gums, and your teeth might bleed when you brush. At this stage, gum disease is reversible. Over time, if left untreated, this can then develop into something called periodontitis; this affects more of the tissue in your gums and bone levels recede. Worst case, if left untreated, this can evolve into advanced periodontitis and cause your teeth to become loose or even fall out due to your gums and bone being unable to hold your teeth in place. Tooth loss is a scary thought, but there are steps you can take that will help you to know when to spot gum disease, and how to treat it.
Regular check-ups with your dentist will alert you to any issues you may be having with your gums. If your gums start to bleed, are painful or feel swollen, then it’s best to book an appointment with your dentist straight away. Catching the onset of gum disease can be crucial in preventing it.
Maintaining a constant level of good oral hygiene is paramount.
There are certain lifestyle choices which can increase your risk of gum disease and worsen symptoms over time. For example, smokers are six times more likely to lose bone around the teeth. During pregnancy, certain hormonal changes can impact the way gums react to the plaque. Stress, genetics and long-term medical conditions such as diabetes can also make you much more prone to gum disease. In which case, regular visits to your hygienist should be a priority to help mitigate your risk despite being more susceptible to issues.
Preventing gum disease is easy enough if you actively take steps to do so. Remember, good oral health begins with you.