In this blog, we look at all things gum disease; the symptoms, causes, and how to treat them! Your oral health is a crucial aspect of your overall well-being, and gum disease is one of the most common dental issues. It affects millions of people worldwide, and if left untreated, can lead to severe oral health complications, including tooth loss. In this post, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of gum disease, helping you to understand its causes, identify the symptoms, and explore effective treatment options.
So, whether you’re seeking preventative measures or suspect you might be experiencing the early stages of gum disease, read on to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to maintain a healthy, radiant smile.
At Granite Belt Dental, we have a team of skilled family dentists and therapists who prioritise your comfort and ease during each visit. Whether you’re in search of a family dental clinic with experience in treating gum disease in Warwick, Inglewood, or Stanthorpe, contact us directly or schedule an appointment online.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health issue affecting the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. If plaque is not adequately removed through proper oral hygiene, it can harden into tartar, which further exacerbates gum problems.
Gum disease can be broadly categorised into two stages:
- Gingivitis: This is the early stage of gum disease characterised by inflammation, redness, and swelling of the gums. At this stage, the damage is usually reversible with proper dental care, as the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place have not yet been affected.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. In this stage, the gums pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that can become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria, but the process can break down the bone and connective tissue that support the teeth. Over time, this can lead to tooth loss.
Preventing and treating gum disease involves maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. In more advanced cases, professional dental treatments like scaling and root planing or surgical interventions may be required to manage the condition.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Gum disease can manifest in various symptoms that impact different areas of the mouth. It is essential to recognise these signs early to prevent further complications and maintain good oral health.
- Gums: One of the most noticeable symptoms of gum disease is the appearance of the gums. They may become red, swollen, and tender, often accompanied by bleeding, especially during brushing or flossing. Another indication of gum disease is gum recession, where the gums pull away from the teeth, making them appear longer. This can also lead to the formation of pockets between the teeth and gums, which can trap bacteria and food particles, worsening the condition.
- Teeth: As gum disease progresses, it affects the teeth as well. Loose or sensitive teeth may be a sign that the supporting structures of the teeth are being compromised by the disease. Additionally, pain while chewing could indicate that the infection has spread.
- Other symptoms: Persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, is another common symptom of gum disease. This is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth, which release unpleasant-smelling gases. Bad breath can also be a sign that the disease is progressing, and the infection is causing tissue breakdown, which releases foul odours.
If you suspect that you have gum disease, contact your dentist today. If you live in the Granite Belt area, contact us today! We are experts in gum disease treatments and can help you mitigate symptoms and slow the spread of the disease. With offices in Stanthorpe, Warwick, and Inglewood, we are here to help.
The causes of gum disease
Gum disease is primarily caused by the buildup of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. When plaque is not removed daily through proper oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, it can harden and transform into tartar. Tartar build-up exacerbates gum disease, and once formed, it cannot be removed through regular at-home dental care. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can effectively eliminate tartar.
While plaque and tartar buildup are the main culprits, several risk factors can increase an individual’s susceptibility to gum disease, such as smoking. Smoking not only increases the risk of developing gum disease but also hinders the efficacy of gum disease treatments.
Hormonal changes in girls and women, such as those experienced during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can also heighten the risk of gum disease. These fluctuations in hormone levels can make the gums more sensitive, allowing gingivitis to develop more easily.
Certain illnesses and their associated medications can also contribute to gum disease. Diabetes, for example, can impair an individual’s ability to fight infections, including those in the mouth. Similarly, AIDS and its related medications can also weaken the immune system, making the gums more susceptible to infections. Additionally, genetics can play a role in an individual’s predisposition to gum disease, making some people inherently more vulnerable to this oral health issue.
Being aware of these risk factors can help individuals take preventative measures, maintain good oral hygiene, and seek timely dental care to minimise the risk of gum disease and its associated complications.
How to treat gum disease
The primary objective of gum disease treatment is to control infection and prevent its progression. The types of treatments needed depend on the severity of the disease. Regardless of the treatment approach, it is essential for the patient to maintain good daily oral care at home. In some cases, the dentist may recommend lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
Nonsurgical treatments for periodontitis include less invasive procedures such as:
- Scaling: Removes tartar and bacteria from tooth surfaces and below the gumline.
- Root planing: Smooths root surfaces to prevent further tartar buildup and help gums reattach to teeth.
- Antibiotics: Control bacterial infections through mouth rinses, gels, or oral medications.
For advanced periodontitis, surgical treatments may be necessary. These include:
- Flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery: Involves making cuts in the gums to expose tooth roots for more effective scaling and root planing, as well as reshaping the underlying bone.
- Soft tissue grafts: Reinforce damaged gum tissue by attaching tissue from the roof of the mouth or a donor source to the affected area.
- Bone grafting: Uses the patient’s own bone, artificial material, or donated bone to hold the tooth in place and support regrowth of natural bone.
- Guided tissue regeneration: Employs a special fabric to promote bone regrowth in the area destroyed by bacteria.
- Tissue-stimulating proteins: Apply a gel containing proteins found in developing tooth enamel to stimulate healthy bone and tissue growth.
To keep your gums and teeth healthy, follow these helpful tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup.
- Floss regularly to eliminate plaque from between your teeth. Alternatively, you can use an interdental brush, wooden or plastic pick, or a water flosser recommended by a dental professional to clean between your teeth effectively.
- Schedule routine dental check-ups and professional cleanings to maintain optimal oral health and detect any early signs of gum disease.
- Quit smoking, as it not only increases the risk of gum disease but also hinders the success of gum disease treatments.
By adhering to these practices and seeking timely dental care, you can significantly reduce the risk of gum disease and maintain a healthy, radiant smile.