The majority of us have heard about gum disease, but you may be surprised to learn it is actually the main cause of tooth loss in adults.
It is estimated that up to three quarters of adults in the UK are affected in some way or another by this very common condition. In fact, pretty much all of us will experience it at some point in our lives. However, while for some of us the signs can be obvious, for many other patients they won’t even know they have it!!
So what is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by the unavoidable build-up of plaque on our teeth. No matter how well, or how regularly we brush, a very fine film of bacteria is left each day. This film hardens over time eventually becoming tartar.
If it is left, our body starts to take matters into it’s own hands attempting to break down and destroy the tartar before it rots the teeth. Unfortunately in around a quarter of people our immune system doesn’t just stop at the tartar- it continues to erode the gum and bone meaning that the teeth become loose and could even fall out completely.
There is no real way of identifying who is more at risk of this- unfortunately it can just happen to anyone at any time.
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
The best way to ensure your gums stay healthy is to visit the hygienist regularly. Your hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar layer from your teeth and fully check the health of your gums. They can point out any problem areas and give you advise and cleaning tools to help. See our Dental hygienist page for more information regarding our expert hygiene care.
- Always make sure you brush your teeth well at home.
- Aim to brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes a time.
- Choose the right size toothbrush, which fits comfortably in your mouth allowing you to fully reach your back teeth. Medium bristles are usually best, as they allow you to apply enough pressure without eroding the enamel.
- Use interdental brushes or dental floss (available from us or your local chemist) to clean between any gaps in your teeth. Even if the gaps are tiny, this will help to prevent bacteria entering any pockets in the gums. Interdental brushes are available in a range of thicknesses- make sure you choose the right size so that the brush fills the gap fully without having to be forced.
The signs of gum disease
- The most common sign of gum disease is bleeding when you brush. Sometimes you might notice bleeding when you eat too.
- Your gums may start to look puffy and inflamed or may change colour slightly- becoming darker. Remember that normal healthy gums should be pink and firm.
- You might notice the development of bad breath
- Your teeth may become more sensitive
- Your teeth may start to look longer or gaps could start to appear.
Treating gum disease
If you are worried you might have gum disease it’s really important to visit us at the earliest opportunity so that we can check.
Unfortunately once damage has been done to the gums we can’t repair it but we can address the problem to prevent it from advancing further.
The majority of cases of gum disease can be improved with a deep clean (debridement) under the gums to remove any bacteria. This would then be followed by a regular scale and polish with your hygienist.
In very serious cases you may need to be referred to a specialist periodontist who will provide expert care and long-term advice to help you manage your condition in the future.
Book an appointment with the dentist or hygienist today.