Is there blood in the sink when you brush and floss? If there is, you might be like many people and think this is normal. But it could be an early sign of gum disease that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. In addition, more and more research points to a connection between oral health and systemic health, so you could be putting your overall well-being at risk.
What is even more troubling is that often gum disease presents without any symptoms. The only way to know for sure if your gums are healthy is to visit your dentist twice each year for check-ups and cleans.
We welcome you to our Katoomba, NSW surgery so we can conduct a tooth-by-tooth examination as well as assess your gum health.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums caused by the build-up of plaque. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that build up on the teeth. Even the most diligent brushing and flossing cannot remove all plaque. When plaque is not removed, it hardens into calculus, or tartar, which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. Patients who skip dental appointments often find out they have developed gum disease.
Signs of Gum Disease
Although it doesn’t always come with symptoms, when it does, you might be experiencing gum disease if you notice any of the following:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Gums that are swollen or tender
- Teeth that appear longer than normal because gums have pulled away
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Pus between at the gum line
- Teeth that feel loose or that have moved
Gum disease in its early stages is called gingivitis, when plaque and calculus damage the gums and cause inflammation of the gums. Advanced stages of gum disease is called periodontitis, and this can cause serious damage to teeth and the gums, and bone that supports the teeth.
As gum inflammation and infection get worse, pockets form between gum and teeth, and the gum may recede from the teeth. As a result, teeth can become loose, fall out or require extraction.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
The presence of plaque and calculus is a result of poor oral hygiene and skipped dental cleans. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of seeing your dentist every six months so plaque can be removed and your gums can be examined.
Your dentist or periodontist will check for any change in the size, shape, appearance or texture of the gums that may indicate disease. Your dental history is important, and you will be asked about any problems you have had with your health and teeth in the past.
Aside from regular preventive care by seeing your dentist regularly, you can help prevent gum disease by following a strict oral health regimen. Daily brushing and flossing will help keep your gums and teeth clean and reduce the risk of gum disease.
Treating Periodontal Disease
The treatment of gingivitis is usually successful and involves the removal of plaque and calculus, followed by thorough but gentle cleaning. If necessary, we will develop a treatment plan that involves more frequent professional cleans.
If gum disease is in its more advanced stages, treatment might include scaling and root planing to clean below the gum line. We will recommend quitting to patients who smoke or have other lifestyle habits contributing to gum disease.
For more information on protecting your gum health, we welcome your call to our Katoomba surgery.