It's Dental Health Week!
Brisbane Smile Boutique has a preventive dental care offer of a comprehensive examination, professional scaling and cleaning, and bitewing x-rays for $199 for August. Call on 07 3391 2504
Many adults have some form of gum disease, ranging from inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) to the serious condition of periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
Gum disease is caused when bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth combine with saliva and particles of food debris to form plaque, a sticky and colourless film that can harden into tartar or calculus, which attacks the tissue below the gum line if it is not removed.
Gingivitis can usually be treated with minimally invasive options such as a professional dental scaling and cleaning, but if it progresses to periodontitis (Latin for inflammation around the tooth), more invasive treatment is likely to be necessary, including scaling and deep cleaning of the surface of the tooth roots (root planing), or surgery and possibly bone and tissue grafts with a dental specialist, called a periodontist.
Untreated periodontitis can cause significant damage to the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth and face, and the bacteria can also get into your bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms to watch for
Periodontal disease mainly affects people once they reach their 30s or 40s. Teens rarely develop periodontitis but often have the precursor condition, gingivitis.
Early detection of gum problems is critical for effective treatment, but you may not realise your gums are infected because in the initial stages the condition may be painless. It is a common oral health issue and people often focus more on teeth than gums when it comes to brushing and flossing, and because the problem is usually pain free during the early stages it can be easy to overlook, however failure to recognise the signs that you have gum disease can result in serious consequences, and it’s one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults. Regular dental check ups with your dentist and oral health therapist are imperative for prevention and early detection, even if you maintain a good routine of oral hygiene at home.
It is recommended to at least attend for an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation for all adults with professional scaling and cleaning, and ideally this would be done twice a year. A dentist and oral health therapist with a strong emphasis on preventive dentistry will be able to give you further advice on protecting yourself against gum disease.
Signs you have gum disease:
- Persistent bad breath Bad breath (halitosis) that won’t go away, or a bad taste in the mouth, may be caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth, which forms toxins.
- Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums The bacteria that cause gum disease causes inflammation and your gums may bleed or become red, swollen or tender. For many people with gingivitis, this inflammation is not painful.
- Receding gums Gum recession may be a symptom of periodontitis, when the tissue that surrounds the teeth erodes away or pulls back, exposing the root surface that is usually protected by the gum.
- Loose teeth Teeth can become loose when infection takes hold beneath the gum line, and as the problem intensifies, the gum pockets become deeper. This is because the bacteria from gingivitis and periodontitis are causing the body’s immune system to attack the gum tissue and bone around the teeth.
- Sensitive teeth and discomfort when eating Tooth sensitivity can be a sign of gum recession resulting from periodontitis which happens because the underlying surface of the tooth (dentine) loses the protection of the outer very strong surface shell (enamel).
Other signs you have gum disease include the appearance of pus around the teeth and gums, a change in bite function, a change in the fit of partial dentures, mouth sores, shiny gums,and new spaces developing between your teeth.
Are You at Greater Risk of Gum Disease?
Any of these signs you have gum disease may indicate a serious issue and you should get checked by a dentist as soon as you can. Twenty five percent of people around the world have the serious effects of periodontal disease and certain factors carry a greater risk, so you should be particularly vigilant if you fall into one of the following categories:
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of infections, including gum disease.
- Other medical conditions Conditions like cancer and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and their treatments can adversely affect the health of gums.
- Genetics. Some people are more vulnerable to periodontitis than others.
- Hormonal changes in women. Pregnancy and menopause can make gums more susceptible to gingivitis.
- Certain medications Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can restrict the flow of saliva, which is vital in flushing away the bacteria that cause gum disease. Some medicines can also lead to abnormal growth of gum tissue making it difficult to keep the teeth and gums clean.
- Poor diet If your diet lacks sufficient nutrients, your immune system may become compromised and weaken your natural defences against infections such as gum disease.
- Smoking. Smoking greatly increases the likelihood of gum disease and can decrease the chances of successful treatment.