What is Gum Disease and how do you treat it?


Introduction

Gum disease is a painful inflammation of the gums, which typically occurs due to a build-up of plaque and bacterial growth in your mouth and on your teeth. All of us have a range of bacteria in our mouths which causes plaque to be formed constantly, as some of these bacteria feed on the sugars in the food and drinks you consume. This plaque provides the perfect environment for the bacteria that causes periodontist gum disease to live and multiply. Gum disease causes and treatments for obvious reasons go hand in hand, as gum disease needs to be treated at its root cause or it can lead to more severe ailments including the loss of teeth.

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What is Gum disease?

As mentioned, gum disease is basically a painful gum inflammation which, if not treated in time, can develop into two stages. Our immune system tries to rid itself of the plaque, which is what causes an inflammation response, resulting in redness and swelling around the teeth.

Gingivitis – a common form of gum disease that affects most adults at some point during their lives. While it is generally non-destructive and has mild symptoms, it can become more severe if not treated at the root cause. Gingivitis has two main forms; one is caused by plaque build-up, which irritates the gum and results in inflammation, discolouration, and pain. The second form is gingival lesions, which results from bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction, illness, or irritation caused by foreign bodies such as dentures.

Periodontitis – this condition is an advanced stage of gum disease that can occur when gingivitis is not treated properly. It affects the covering of the tooth root, the fibres, tissues, and bone that connect the root to the bone and can lead to tooth loss due to the harm caused to the tissue that surrounds the teeth.

Periodontal disease damages the seal of the gum, which leads to spaces forming between the teeth and gums. Bacteria get trapped in these packets known as ‘periodontal pockets’, which leads to even more damage occurring. Over time the bone is damaged and even larger spaces begin to form between the gum and the teeth.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

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If you start experiencing any of the following it is most probable that you are suffering from gum disease.

  • Soft gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Tender gums that may be painful to the touch
  • Gum inflammation and discoloration
  • Bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums — the gum line shrinks away from the tooth
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Tenderness when biting
  • Loose teeth, or teeth that have moved

What causes gum disease?

There are a number of things that can cause gum disease; poor oral hygiene, illness, and bad habits can cause your gums to become unhealthy.

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Plaque build-up
  • Misaligned teeth which make proper brushing and flossing difficult
  • Other health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV
  • Changes in hormones such as puberty, menopause, pregnancy, or menstrual cycles
  • Certain drugs can reduce saliva production, which has an impact on overall oral health.
  • Regular smoking
  • Increased age increases the risk of gingivitis
  • Family history

What should you do if you develop symptoms?

Detecting gum disease during the early stages will help prevent it from becoming severe and lead to further dental and health issues. If you experience early symptoms of gum disease you should immediately consult a dentist. During the consultation your teeth and gums will be checked and if necessary, x-rays of your teeth and bone will be done for further examination. Further tests or dental treatment will be recommended based on how severe your gum disease is.

If it is still in the early stages, you will be advised to maintain good oral hygiene and to regularly brush your teeth. If you do smoke, you will be advised to stop immediately and to have professional cleanings done by a dental hygienist on your teeth and gums. If your case is severe, then you will be referred to a specialist.

What are the treatments for gum disease?

If your gum disease symptoms show signs of becoming severe, you will be asked to have deep cleaning or root planing done under the gums. You may also be prescribed antibiotics, gels, or creams to help with the healing. In very severe cases you may have to have some teeth removed or undergo gum surgery.

Gum disease prevention

Generally, gum disease is preventable with proper care towards oral health. The most basic and effective way is to clean your teeth thoroughly every day. Maintain a proper daily dental care routine and make it part of your mornings and evenings so that you never forget. Removing plaque that causes gum disease is the best way to prevent gum disease.

Brush your teeth twice a day and be sure to include the gum line as well. Use fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. Aim to replace your tooth brush every 3 months or so because frayed bristles do not clean the teeth effectively. Floss or use interdental brushes to clean between your teeth. Rinse your mouth well and use an antibacterial mouthwash which will help prevent gingivitis, bad breath, and plaque.
If you wear dentures, then it is important that you follow proper cleaning routines as plaque can build up easily on dentures and increase the risk of gum disease around your natural teeth. It is similar if you have crooked teeth, badly fitted crowns or bridges for which you should seek professional advice on the best way to keep your teeth clean.
People with diabetes should keep their blood sugar levels under control as fluctuating blood sugar levels can contribute to gum disease. Avoid sugary foods and drinks or clean your teeth afterwards to immediately remove the sticky film on your teeth caused by sugar. If you do smoke, you should really consider quitting. Drinking a lot of water — fluoridated where possible — is another great way to keep your mouth clean and reduce the risk of gum disease.
Increased stress can also make it hard for your body’s immune system to fight off infections, so try to reduce stress with walks, reading, or listening to music — anything that will help you feel calmer.
Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infections. Eating foods with antioxidants will also help such as leafy green veggies, vegetable oils and nuts, along with citrus fruits, broccoli, and potatoes.
In addition to all the above, it is important that you have regular check-ups with a dentist. You do not need to wait until you get symptoms but instead make regular visits to the dentist a routine. You will also be guided on the best dental homecare to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. If you do develop symptoms, then seek immediate treatment to help save your teeth from the adverse effects of gum disease.
Get in touch with Mouth Dental and our team of expert dental care specialists to help you with your oral health journey. All your dental care needs can be handled under one roof, leaving you with no excuse not to give your teeth the best care they deserve.

Mouth Dental

With a base of over 9,000 private dental patients, Mouth Dental is a multi-clinic practice based at South Quay and Churchill Place in Canary Wharf as well as Nine Elms SW11. Find out more below.

South Quay

Canary Wharf

Churchill Place

Canary Wharf

Nine Elms

SW11 – opening Summer 2022

Nine Elms, Battersea
2 Ravine Way
Legacy 1 Building
Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms
Battersea, London
SW11 7AY
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South Quay, Canary Wharf
1 – 2 Raleigh House
Admirals Way
London
E14 9SN
020 7987 1212
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Churchill Place, Canary Wharf
Unit 11, 2 Churchill Place
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5RB
020 3384 1212
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