Gum disease or periodontal disease, as dentists call it, is caused by plaque – which is the name given to the film of bacteria that collects on teeth. Gum disease involves the inflammation of the gums followed by infection.
If you visit the dentist regular and keep your teeth and gums clean and there is usually no reason that you should suffer from gum disease.
Periodontal disease is usually painless which can make it harder to detect. However it can usually be prevented by good and careful teeth cleaning, and regular scale and polishes with your dental hygienist. Studies have also shown that smoking is a risk factor for gum disease and every effort should be stop smoking as part of treatment for condition.
At Lonsdale Dental Practice we will keep a record of the condition of your gums as they are as important as your teeth. Your dentist will assess your gums at every check–up by gently probing around your teeth to check for areas of bleeding or to look for areas where bone may be being lost. Additionally routine x-rays will show the bone levels around your mouth.
Gum Disease The Facts
In its early stages just the gum is affected, with the gums becoming inflamed and appearing red and swollen. The gums will bleed easily and the bleeding can often be noticed on brushing. You may notice bad breath. At this stage if you remove all the plaque and keep it away, by careful brushing, flossing and perhaps the use of mouthwashes as well, your gums should return to normal.
Later Stages – Bone Loss
If the disease is not stopped it continues to spread down beneath the gum, at which point the gums may become more swollen and bleed more often. The plaque may harden to form ‘tartar’ or calculus around the teeth. The infection spreads into the bone that holds the teeth in place and, in simple terms, starts to dissolve the bone away. Once the bone goes it cannot be naturally replaced.
How The Teeth Are Affected
The effect of losing bone is that the tooth may become gradually loose and eventually, if the disease process is not stopped, the affected tooth or teeth will fall out. In these later stages you will need the help of a dental hygienist to carry out cleaning under the gums to clean out the affected areas.