Gum disease or periodontitis is an infection that damages the soft tissues that supports your teeth and, without treatment, can gradually destroy the jaw bone that may cause teeth to loosen or lead to eventual tooth loss. Gum disease is usually painless and you may not know you have it until late signs appear such as loose teeth.
-red, swollen, tender gums
-gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing
-gums that have receded or pulled away from the teeth making the teeth look longer
-persistent bad breath or bad taste
-new spaces developing between the teeth
-teeth that are loose or moved from the original position.
Causes and risk factors
-plaque: a sticky film of bacteria that continuously forms on our teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day helps remove plaque.
-tartar: also known as calculus is plaque that has hardened usually around the gum line and on the root surfaces. Brushing and flossing usually will not remove the tartar, only a dentist with special cleaning tools can help remove it.
-Smoking or chewing tobacco
-Medications: certain high blood pressure medication, anti-epileptic drugs, cancer therapy drugs and some steroids.
-Uncontrolled diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s diesease
-Crowded teeth that are hard to keep clean
The great news is that mild form of gum disease called gingivitis is largely preventable and reversible with daily brushing, flossing and regular cleaning by your dentist.
Severe gum disease requires more aggressive intervention with professional deep cleaning of your teeth under the gums by your dentist, usually performed under local anaesthetics. Good dental care at home and continuing with gum maintenance visits with the dentist will ensure that gum disease is under control and monitored closely.
General Health implications
-The bacteria responsible for gum disease can enter the bloodstream through the gum tissue, possibly affecting other parts of the body. For example, periodontitis is linked with respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and problems controlling blood sugar in diabetes.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to begin early with good oral hygiene and practice consistently throughout life.
-Brush your teeth for 2 minutes at least twice daily, and floss at least once a day.
-Visit your dentist regularly usually every 6-12 months will ensure that the dentist can remove the plaque/tartar around the teeth and detect any early problems before it becomes more serious.