Most adults in the UK have gum disease to some extent. It’s more common with age, and the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, which is why its treatment and control is the single most important factor in dental care.
Gum disease is the swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth and there are two main types: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Two symptoms of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, are bleeding when brushing and bad breath.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, periodontitis can develop. This affects tissues that support the teeth and hold them in place. If this goes untreated the bone in the jaw may be damaged and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth, allowing teeth to become loose and eventually be lost.
Gum disease usually develops painlessly so it’s easy not to notice the damage it is doing. If the disease is left untreated for a long time treatment can become more difficult.
The problem is the build up of bacteria in the mouth, which together with its by-products is called plaque. If plaque isn’t removed from the teeth it builds up and irritates the gums, leading to bleeding, swelling and soreness. When plaque hardens into a substance called calculus or tartar, it can only be removed with professional cleaning.
This process is continuous, which is why a regular professional clean with a hygienist is a good way to keep gum disease in check, especially as you get older.
Mild cases of gum disease can usually be treated by maintaining a good level of oral hygiene, which means brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly. It’s a good idea to attend regular dental examinations so problem areas can be spotted early before there’s permanent damage, and hygiene appointments can be arranged to follow on from these appointments to make life easier.
We will perform a thorough clean and remove any calculus, and we’ll show you how to clean your teeth effectively to help prevent plaque building up in the future. You may be advised to visit us more frequently if you’ve had problems with gum disease in the past or if you have an increased risk of developing gum problems, for example, if you smoke or have diabetes, so your teeth and gums can be closely monitored.
If severe gum disease is found then further dental treatment might be needed and, in some cases, surgery might be required. Our dentists and hygienists work together closely to stop and reverse the effects of gum disease. We regard this as the foundation of your oral health.