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Gum Disease Treatment

Don't ignore your gums!

Gum disease is very common. It is a condition where poor oral hygiene caused the gums to become inflamed, infected or sore. This inflammation of the gum line can then affect the surrounding bone, which supports your teeth and lead to them becoming loose.

Most people will experience gum disease of some degree at least once, and while much less common in children, everyone is at risk if not prevented or quickly treated. The good news is, the condition can be easily prevented with caring for your oral hygiene, through brushing, flossing and regular check-ups.

Symptoms of gum disease

Pain isn't the only indicator of gum disease.

Many may not feel any pain, but there are signs to look out for that may indicate inflamed or infected gums.

  • Gums which easily bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that recede or have moved away from the tooth
  • Persistent bad breath or taste in the mouth
  • Gums which have become swollen, tender or red
  • Visible pus surrounding teeth or the gums
  • Pain when chewing foods
  • Teeth that are very sensitive to cold or hot temperatures

Gum disease comes in three main types:

Gingivitis is caused by poor oral hygiene. A build-up of plaque, a sticky substance containing bacteria, causes gums to become inflamed and to bleed when brushed.

By removing the plaque, and looking after your gums and teeth properly, gingivitis will likely disappear. However, if untreated, it can develop into a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis.

Periodontal diseases develop when gingivitis is left untreated and spreads to the surrounding bone and ligaments, which hold your teeth in place. Your gums begin to pull away from teeth and leave pockets which then trap more plaque which may become unreachable when using a regular or electric toothbrush.

Over time plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) irritate the gums and lead to infections and abscesses that reveal the roots of teeth, causing them to become loose and feel overly sensitive.

Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG)
ANUG is a severe form of bacterial infection that causes swelling, bad breath, ulcers and pain. This form of gum disease cannot be treated through better oral hygiene. If you develop ANUG or any of its symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing or painful ulcers, consult your dentist as soon as possible.

Other factors leading to gum disease

While poor oral hygiene is the leading cause, there is a range of other factors that can lead to gum disease.

These include:

Hormonal changes
Hormonal changes can lead to gums becoming more sensitive. This may also encourage some to brush more lightly to reduce gum pain, which allows plaque to build. An example of when hormonal changes may have this effect is during pregnancy.

Illnesses are also linked to the development of gum disease. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV are just some examples of illnesses which can have a big impact on your teeth, gums and overall oral health.

Some medications can affect oral health. Certain medications can lessen the flow of saliva around your mouth. Saliva has a protective effect on gums and teeth, and so any reduction of it can lead to gum disease. Other medications can also cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.

Bad habits
Smoking, excess alcohol and other bad habits can also lead to poor oral hygiene and so contribute to the development of gum disease,

Family history
If you have a known family history of dental disease, then you take extra care and visit your dentist regularly, especially if you begin to see minor symptoms of gum disease.

Treating gum disease

The best way to prevent disease and keep healthy gums is to clean your teeth thoroughly and daily. However, if you have started to see symptoms or have developed a form of gum disease, then you should seek professional treatment.

For the minor forms of gum disease such as gingivitis a professional cleaning, or scale and polish, is the best treatment. By removing all the plaque and tatar around your teeth and gums, you can allow your gums to heal and return to a healthy state. Regular check-ups, up to four times a year, will help you stay on top of any developing disease and treat it before it can develop into something more severe.

If gum disease is left to develop then other treatments will be necessary. Root planting may be needed to deep clean under the gums to clean away any bacteria that is not reachable by regular cleaning.

If pockets or recesses have begun to appear, then gingival flap surgery is sometimes necessary to reduce periodontal pockets and reduce the risk of further infection. Bone grafting may also be required in some cases to restore any lost bone.

If you need further advice or are worried about your oral hygiene, then give us a call. We'd be happy to discuss the best ways we can help your gums stay healthy.