Most of us will experience gum disease at some point in our lives but the extent to which it affects you will depend on how well you look after your teeth and mouth. The early stages of gum disease are easily treatable and your dentist will be able to give you advice on how to stop it from progressing. If gum disease takes hold it can lead to damage to gums and jaw, as well as tooth loss so it’s something that should be dealt with quickly.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease affects the parts of your mouth that surround your teeth and keep them securely in place. It starts as an inflammation of the gums but if it is allowed to progress it may go on to damage soft tissue and bone.
What are the different types of gum disease?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, where plaque – caused by a build up of bacteria in your mouth – irritates your gums. If this condition is not dealt with it can lead to periodontitis, which is where the bones and ligaments in your mouth start to become damaged. Gums may shrink away from teeth and infections can cause nasty abscesses. The most serious type of gum disease is acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, which develops quickly, causing bad breath and ulcers.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Initially, you may notice that your teeth bleed when you brush them and that they are red and swollen – these are signs of gingivitis. Wobbly teeth, receding gums, bad breath, a nasty taste in your mouth, and pus collecting under your gums (i.e. an abscess) are all symptoms of periodontitis. Both of these conditions develop relatively slowly. However, if you have these symptoms, plus difficulty swallowing and a general feeling of being unwell then you may be suffering from acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, which takes hold much faster and should be treated quickly.
How can you avoid gum disease?
Preventative dentistry is a big part of avoiding problems arising from gum disease. All gum disease is caused by plaque, so taking steps to make sure your teeth are plaque free – such as regular brushing and flossing – are important for keeping gum disease at bay. Avoiding smoking and reducing consumption of foods that can cause plaque, such as sugary treats and refined carbohydrates, can make a big difference. It’s also crucial to make sure that you have regular check ups so that your dentist can help you to stay on top of any problems as they arise, and keep your teeth and gums in great health.
If you have any concerns about gum disease – or to book an appointment for a check up – contact one of our team for help.