Gum disease is something that many of us underestimate. We often assume that gum disease is a fairly mild condition that might cause a bleeding gum here and there but nothing more serious. However, the reality of gum disease is that it can be pretty serious and, if not treated, could result in tooth loss.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is the result of bacteria in our mouths, which layers up on teeth to cause a sticky film called ‘plaque.’ Brushing and flossing will remove plaque but if it isn’t treated then it starts to harden and will become ‘tartar.’ It’s not possible to remove tartar with a toothbrush. The longer plaque and tartar are left attached to the surface of the teeth, the more damage they can do. Initial stages of gum disease begin when these substances start to irritate teeth, causing bleeding gums known as ‘gingivitis.’ If they are left there long term they can form ‘periodontitis,’ where gums pull away from teeth and infection spreads.
What causes gum disease?
The most common cause is poor oral hygiene. It’s very simple to remove plaque and tartar by brushing and flossing twice a day. However, there are also some lifestyle factors that have been known to cause an increase in the risk of gum disease. These include, smoking, poor diet, diabetes, stress, ageing and treatments designed to cure or manage serious diseases, such as chemotherapy.
How can you avoid gum disease?
It’s not that hard to keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from gum disease.
Brush and floss – daily oral care will help keep your mouth healthy.
Regular checkups – see your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis so that any plaque and tartar can be removed and any problems spotted and dealt with quickly.
Cut down on foods that are high in sugar – plaque loves sugary food and drink as this provides it with plenty of fuel. Sugary consumables are turned into acid by plaque and this acid gradually eats away at the surface of the tooth. Swap sugary drinks for water and cut down on foods with high sugar content.
Drink more water – staying hydrated is important, as saliva helps to remove the bacteria that can cause plaque.
Eat fresh fruit and vegetables – fruit such as apples and vegetables like carrots actually help to clean your teeth as you eat them, removing bad bacteria.
With a good diet, regular brushing and ongoing dental care, it’s easy to keep your mouth healthy as the years go by.