Gum or Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. Although most individuals suffer gum inflammation from time to time, around 10% of the population appear to suffer from the more severe forms of the disease which cause loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease. It is caused by the bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth.
Around 10% of the population is susceptible. Our knowledge is improving all the time of why this is, although 3 major factors are thought to be responsible. Family history, stress and smoking are all important risk factors. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make an individual more susceptible.
Are you at high risk of gum disease?
Smoking: Numerous studies have shown that smokers have more gum disease. Smokers have decreased blood flow to the gums, increased levels of tartar in the mouth, and experience more tissue irritation, which makes their gums more susceptible to disease. Smokers have more bone loss and heal less quickly than non-smokers.
Stress: When our immune system is stressed it is difficult to fight off the bacteria that cause gum infections.
Dental neglect: Avoiding the dentist is a lifestyle choice that puts you at risk of contracting diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums.
Heart disease: Gum inflammation products and bacteria in gum disease can cause heart disease, and in some cases, double the risk of a fatal heart attack. In addition, bacteria from your mouth may combine with blood-clotting cells called platelets, forming heart-stopping blood clots.
Stroke: New studies show that 70% of the fatty deposits of stroke sufferers contain bacteria, of which 40% comes from the mouth.
Diabetics: This group of people are more likely to have gum disease than most people and gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.
Premature birth: Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be as much as seven times more likely to have a baby born early. Some research suggests that gum disease may increase the level of hormones that induce labour
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease vary significantly but may include gums that bleed when brushing, together with signs of more advanced disease such as movement or drifting of the teeth. However, it is possible to have the disease and not be aware of these signs. It is essential to see your dentist regularly so that special assessment techniques, sometimes including x-rays, can be carried out as part of your routine dental examinations.
Daily Oral Care To Treat Gum Disease:
In addition to the normal care routine to prevent decay (see the Adult care page), do the following once a day:
Use a round headed Oral-B electric toothbrush
Clean between the teeth to below the gum line - use dental floss and use interdental brushes in between each tooth (the biggest size brush that fits)
Use a single-tufted brush to push the bristles up beneath the gum line
This should take you around ten minutes and it is very important to do this every day.
It is normal to experience bleeding and tenderness when you first start. This is because your gums are inflamed, however this will subside with time as your gums get back to health
Keep in mind that healthy gums don't bleed. You are the key player on the hygiene team. If you don’t do the essential daily brushing and flossing, the rest of your dental team (the dentist and hygienist) is playing short-handed. And sometimes with everyone fighting the good fight, stubborn plaque and bacteria will require some new maintenance techniques for battling gum infection.
GUM DISEASE IS NOT CURABLE,
BUT IT IS TREATABLE,
AND IN MOST CASES, CONTROLLABLE
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