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A Guide to Gum Disease

Gum disease (also known as periodontitis) is an extremely common ailment that affects a high number of individuals at some point during their lives and can lead to the eventual loss of a tooth or the spread of infection.

While many people do suffer from this condition, it remains one of the most easily preventable issues in dentistry – where an effective oral hygiene routine could ward off the problem in the first place.

It is estimated that 50 to 90 per cent of the adult population suffers from some degree of gum disease.

What is gum disease?

Referred to by some dentists as gingivitis, gum disease can cause serious problems for the teeth and gums, leading to the surrounding areas becoming red and inflamed and often to bleed when brushing.

It is usually caused by a build-up of plaque on the pearly whites that has not been removed during cleaning.

Long-term gingivitis can eventually evolve in to periodontal disease, of which there are a number of types. As the condition worsens, the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, which can cause the pearly whites to feel loose.

If this issue is left untreated, the teeth may eventually fall out – with figures revealing more people lose their pearly whites through gum disease than as a result of decay.

What are the symptoms?

If oral health is maintained to a high standard, gums will be pink and firm while keeping the teeth anchored securely in place. Additionally, they should not hurt or bleed when they are touched.

While gum disease is not usually painful, sufferers may notice swollen and redness of the tissue, as well as bleeding after brushing or flossing is carried out.

The telltale signs of periodontitis, which develops if the original problem is left untreated, are usually more severe than that of the aforementioned issue. However, there are a number of additional symptoms to look out for, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums that make more of the tooth visible
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Sensitive teeth after the consumption of hot and cold foods
  • Pus coming from the gums
  • Loose teeth, which can make eating a more difficult task
  • Pearly whites falling out of the socket
  • Abscesses

Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?

Although it is unpleasant, gum disease is often unavoidable and the majority of people will fall victim to the condition at some point in their lives, particularly if they neglect their oral health.

The issue is a major cause of tooth loss in adults despite the fact its slow development rate means it can be monitored and treated by a professional – such as those from Pearl Dental Clinic – to ensure teeth and gums remain strong.

What are the causes?

While the issue can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common basis is a lack of oral hygiene that eventually results in a heavy build-up of plaque. The soft, sticky substance is formed when bacteria collects on the surface of the teeth and can result in long-term issues if left untreated.

When food and drinks that are high in carbohydrates are consumed, they combine with bacteria found in the mouth to break down into an acid. Following this, the saliva and food particles that are left after brushing collect and form a sticky film.

Although the substance can easily be removed through brushing the teeth twice every day and flossing up to three times every week, it can harden and create tartar. This sticks much more firmly to the pearly whites than its predecessor and can usually only be removed by a dental professional – a service that is available at Pearl Dental Clinic.

There are also a number of risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing the condition, with smoking among the main causes of gum disease – as well as the easiest to avoid.

Additionally, diabetes and a weakened immune system (usually due to an illness such as HIV, AIDs or chemotherapy treatment) can lead to an upturn in risk.

How is gum disease diagnosed?

Patients who have noticed they are displaying some of the symptoms of this condition should book an appointment with a dental professional at Pearl Dental Clinic as soon as they can, this visit could be the difference between the issue being resolved or worsening.

Those who are suffering from periodontitis are likely to require a full dental examination using a special probe that is shaped like a thin, silver stick with a bend located at the end. When placed inside the mouth, underneath the gum line – the tool allows the specialist to determine how dramatically the symptoms have progressed.

In many cases, patients will need to be X-rayed to monitor the condition of the pearly whites and jaw bone. This course of action uses radiation to take images of the bones to highlight any abnormalities within the teeth.

Can this issue be treated by a dentist?

Patients who suffer from this problem can seek treatment from a dentist – such as those at Pearl Dental Clinic – who may carry out a number of procedures to bring the gums back to health.

Scale and polish – This course of action is a type of professional clean that is usually carried out by a trained hygienist. It involves having the plaque and tartar scarped away from the teeth with a special instrument before any stains are removed.

Those people with severe problems may need to have more than one scale and polish to ensure the best results are achieved.

Root planning – Often, this is required to clean bacteria from the roots of the teeth. Before this treatment is carried out, patients may need anaesthetic to numb the area effectively. Following this, individuals are assured it is perfectly normal to feel some mild discomfort for up to 48 hours.

Additional treatment – Patients with more severe cases of gum disease or periodontitis may need surgery to remove the affected tooth.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Rather than looking for ways to treat gum disease, it is recommended that patients enquire how best to prevent the onset of the condition. Just a few simple steps could result in individuals maintaining their oral health and perfect smile well into the future.

An efficient hygiene routine includes:

  • Brushing pearly whites for between two and three minutes twice every day
  • Using a toothpaste that includes fluoride to protect against decay
  • Flossing teeth at least three times every week, or more if achievable
  • Abstaining from unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and consuming excessive levels of alcohol
  • Visiting a Pearl Dental Clinic practitioner on a regular basis

Our Practice is open seven days a week from 8am till 11pm. You can book a consultation with one of our experienced dentists by calling 0208 547 9997 or emailing us for further information or to arrange a consultation.