What is Gum Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Gum Disease

what is gum disease

Periodontal or gum disease is a widespread oral health concern that affects a substantial proportion of the world’s population.

While it often starts subtly, its impact can be profound if left untreated. This comprehensive guide will explore gum disease, its symptoms, its causes, and the various treatment options.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a general term defining an infection in the tissues surrounding the teeth. It usually involves the build-up of plank—a thin layer of bacteria—on the teeth and the gums.

If not eliminated by daily brushing and flossing, it forms calculus and does not get rid of without professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.

This is followed by the formation of tartar, which in turn creates inflammation and infection of the gums, known as gingivitis, the initial phase of gum disease.

Periodontal disease can develop from gingivitis if the infection progresses to the lower tooth tissues.

Periodontitis destroys the supporting tissues, including the gums, bones, and ligaments, and can sometimes culminate in tooth loss.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Identifying gum disease early is crucial for effective treatment. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Gums that bleed easily: Healthy gums should not bleed during brushing or flossing. Gum bleeding may be the first indication of gingivitis.
  2. Swollen or tender gums: Inflammation is a hallmark of gum disease. Gums may appear red, swollen, or tender to the touch.
  3. Receding gums: Gum disease may lead the gums to recede or draw away from the teeth, creating a feeling of longer teeth.
  4. Persistent bad breath: This might be caused by the same bacteria that cause gum disease.
  5. Loose or shifting teeth: Teeth might become loose or change position if there is damage to the supporting tissues.
  6. Changes in bite: Teeth can shift how they fit together when biting down as they lose their supporting structure.
  7. Pus between gums and teeth: Advanced gum disease may cause pockets of pus between the gums and teeth.
  8. Changes in denture fit: If you wear dentures, they may no longer fit properly due to gums and jawbone structure changes.

Causes of Gum Disease

The following are some of the causes that lead to gum disease:

  1. Poor oral hygiene: Plaque may pile up and become tartar if you don’t brush and floss regularly.
  2. Tobacco use: The risk of gum disease can be significantly increased by smoking or chewing tobacco.
  3. Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to gum disease.
  4. Medical conditions: Certain diseases like diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease.
  5. Hormonal changes: Changes in hormones during menopause, pregnancy, or puberty can cause gingivitis and make gums more sensitive.
  6. Medicines: Some medications can affect oral health or reduce saliva flow, protecting teeth and gums.
  7. Poor nutrition can weaken the body’s defences against infection, ultimately lowering the immune system.

Treatment Options

The degree of gum disease determines how it should be treated.

  1. Professional dental cleaning: Early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) can often be reversed with a dentist or dental hygienist’s professional cleaning. Plaque and tartar must be removed from above and below the gum line.
  2. Scaling and root planing: This deep cleaning procedure may be recommended for more advanced gum disease (periodontitis). It involves removing tartar and smoothing out the roots of the teeth to aid the gums reattach to the teeth.
  3. Medicines: To help control infection and minimise inflammation, doctors may prescribe antibiotics or antibacterial mouth rinses.
  4. Surgical treatments: In extreme cases of gum disease, when pockets have developed between the gums and teeth, surgical procedures like flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts may be needed to restore gum health and support the teeth.
  5. Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, improving oral hygiene, and maintaining a balanced diet can all help prevent gum disease or reduce its progression.

Preventing Gum Disease

Gum disease prevention begins with practising proper dental hygiene:

  • Brushing: Daily dental hygiene is essential and should be done at least twice daily using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Flossing: Floss between your teeth once daily or use an interdental cleaner such as a toothpick with care.
  • Regular dental visits: If you still need a comprehensive checkup, you should do a professional cleaning and checkup at your dentist’s clinic.
  • Healthy diet: Eat your meals in the right proportions, include vitamin-rich foods such as fruits, and eat whole grain products and lean meat.

Gum disease is a prevalent but largely preventable oral health problem that, if ignored, can have dire repercussions.

Recognising the symptoms and seeking timely treatment from a dental professional is vital to maintaining healthy gums and teeth.

Adopting basic oral hygiene practices and addressing risk factors like smoking and poor nutrition can greatly lower one’s risk of gum disease and give one a confident, healthy smile for years to come.

If you suspect gum disease or concerns about your oral health, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist for personalised advice and treatment.

Gum Disease Treatments in Cabramatta

Taking care of your gums is not just about aesthetics but is crucial for overall oral health and well-being. By understanding gum disease, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options, you empower yourself to maintain a healthy smile by taking proactive measures and making well-informed decisions.

At Cabramatta Dental Care, we treat our patients with gentleness and attention to detail.

PAY NO GAP Includes dental exam, cleans, fluoride application and x-rays

  • for patients with dental private health insurance

Contact (02) 9755 5300 or book an appointment online.

Visit us at 47 Arthur St in Cabramatta.

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