Do you know how many people are affected by gum disease? Well according to research carried out by Birmingham University’s School of Dentistry, 90% of adults in the UK have some signs of gum disease. With so many people seemingly affected, is gum disease something that we can safely ignore? In this blog, we’ll look at the different types of gum disease and whether the damage can be reversed.
The two stages of gum disease
Generally speaking, there are two main stages when it comes to gum disease and these are based on the amount of damage that is present and how far things have progressed. The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis while the second stage is called periodontitis. With these, it is important to understand the route cause as this will help dictate the course of action when it comes to treatment.
The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis which is an inflammation of the gums which is caused by a film of plaque or bacteria. There are many stages of gingivitis and it is presented in common symptoms that include:
• Bleeding gums
• Bad breath
• Sensitive teeth
• Swollen or inflamed gums
• Heavy accumulation of tartar
While some people may experience all of the symptoms above, others may not experience all or some of the symptoms above. Smokers are more likely to develop gingivitis and gum disease compared to non-smokers, but they may not realise it as some of the symptoms can be absent due to a lack of blood supply to the gums.
Gingivitis is extremely treatable and the damage can be reversed as it is still in the early stages. The key with anything gum related is to see your dentist as soon as you notice any of the symptoms as this will help to ensure that the damage done is not permanent.
Brushing and flossing can’t remove gingivitis and you will need to seek professional help from your dentist or oral hygienist. They will be able to advise on the best course of treatment as well as helping you put in place an oral hygiene routine designed to keep your gums healthy.
Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis causes irreversible damage to the bone levels that hold your teeth in place. The symptoms of gingivitis are seen to worsen with more inflammation which causes damage to the alveolar bone that holds the teeth in place.
As bone can’t regrow the damage caused by periodontitis is irreversible so it is extremely important that as soon as you start to get symptoms that you seek professional help. Loss of the bone can lead to teeth becoming loose and ultimately with them falling out or requiring removal.
The time it takes for gingivitis to progress into periodontitis will vary on a person by person basis but ignoring either can cause serious health consequences. And, while it is not possible to reverse the damage caused by gum disease, it is entirely possible to treat it and to control the disease to limit further damage.
Often gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating and drinking certain types of food and drink and poor oral hygiene. Making changes to these can have a big impact and make it far easier to stop damage.
If you are worried that you may have symptoms of gum disease then you should book an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist who will be able to check your gums and work out the underlying cause of any problem.