Gum Disease

Prevention and treatment of gum disease

Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in the UK with up to 20% of the population being susceptible to the bad bacteria in their mouths because of their weaker immune systems. The World Health Organisation has listed Gum disease as one of the most common diseases in the world. When the bacteria reaches a level where is starts to cause damage it can eventually lead to the breaking down of the bone and soft tissues which support the teeth causing eventual tooth loss. In fact, most people will have gum disease at some point in their lives, however, if caught early it is easily treated, sometimes purely by an improvement in the oral health care routine.

Healthy Gums and Teeth

Provided that a patient takes care to brush their teeth effectively and regularly, flosses and visits their dentist for regular check ups, there should be very few problems. Failure to do so though is likely to lead to the onset of gum disease. This is most often noticed when symptoms of sore or bleeding gums appear. This is not natural and should be investigated by a professional dentist.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors which increase a person's chances of getting gum disease. Amongst them are smoking, which can cause a dry mouth resulting in insufficient saliva to wash away the bacteria. Stress and being a diabetic as well can be contributing factors.

Calculus

Calculus is a term used for the hardened dental plaque which accumulates on our teeth. This creates a rough surface which then attracts even more bacteria, endangering the gums. Once this calculus has formed it is unlikely to be removed by brushing alone and needs to be removed by the dentist.

Root Planing

Root planing is the process of removing the build up of any  plaque from the teeth, including below the gum line. Although not a painful procedure, it can cause a little discomfort and, depending on the severity, the patient may be given a local anaesthetic in order to numb the area. This is a simple procedure which is highly effective in the prevention of gum disease. Cleaning and polishing is a simplified version of this procedure which usually does not involve cleaning under the gum line.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is another name for gum disease and occurs when the gums become sore or swollen and infected. When this happens they will also possibly bleed, especially when the teeth are cleaned. Bad breath (halitosis) is also another symptom of this problem. Once these symptoms are noticed, a dentist will need to be seen for it to be treated effectively.

Chronic Periodontitis

Chronic periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease, when the bacteria attack the bone structure holding the teeth in place. When this occurs it needs to be treated immediately to prevent tooth loss. This treatment is usually in the form of deep root cleaning, where, similar to root planning, the tooth is cleaned all the way down to its root. A local anaesthetic will be given whilst this procedure is carried out.

Treatment Options

Provided it is caught early enough, an improvement in the way the teeth are cleaned and flossed may be all that is needed to cure it. Other steps are, for minor cases, cleaning and polishing or root planing and for more advanced cases a deep clean down to the very root of the teeth.

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