Gum disease is a condition that will affect most people at some point during their lifetime. Gum disease can be mild, or if left untreated it can develop into an extremely serious condition that not only affects the teeth and gums, but also influences overall health. It’s something that is taken extremely seriously by dental professionals, and is one of the reasons why your dentist sends out those six monthly checkup reminders.
Prevention is always better than the cure, but especially in the case of gum disease, as this condition can become chronic meaning it can never be cured but can only be controlled through regular dental treatments. If you’d rather not see any more of your dental surgery then you have to then it’s well worth taking good care of your gums.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque bacteria in the mouth producing toxins that irritate the gums. These bacteria are present in everyone’s mouth and are normally held in check through proper brushing and flossing. If they aren’t then the numbers of plaque bacteria will build up, and the gums will become increasingly inflamed. This inflammation is the body’s response to the infection in the gums, but it can be quite damaging. At the very least you’ll probably notice your gums are bleeding, and if you don’t seek help then your gums may begin to pull away from the teeth and the ligaments supporting the teeth will be lost. Eventually your teeth will become loose and will-need extracting. Advanced gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in the world.
Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and the symptoms can be quite easy to miss, and for this reason it is often referred to as being a silent disease. These symptoms include:
- Noticing your gums bleed when you brush or floss
- Your gums may look red or tender and may appear puffier than normal
- You might develop bad breath
- You could notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth
The easiest symptom to spot is noticing your gums bleed when you brush or floss and you need to take action at this stage. Now’s the time to book an appointment with your dentist, and it’s best to make an appointment with the hygienist for professional cleaning. Your dentist will be able to tell you whether or not you have gingivitis and can advise you on how to treat it. Your hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and this will help to remove some of the infection in your gums. You’ll be given strict instructions on how to brush and floss thoroughly, and provided you stick to this regime you should notice an improvement in your gums in just a couple of weeks.
What Happens If You Don’t Seek Help at This Stage?
If you choose to ignore these early symptoms or simply don’t notice them, then you are at risk of developing a more serious form of gum disease which is called periodontal disease. This often requires extensive, invasive and quite often costly treatment simply to try to control it. Even worse periodontal disease has been linked to a number of serious diseases including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and strokes. Research is still ongoing to try to discover exactly how these conditions are linked but it is simply not worth taking the risk through ignoring your oral health. Regular checkups and cleanings combined with a good daily oral hygiene routine will be enough to ensure most people have healthy gums.