Gum Disease
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Gum Disease

Hygienist » Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, also know as gum disease, is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. There are several types and stages of the disease, all of which start with an infection of the gums that can move into the bones and ligaments that support the teeth. In the beginning stages, it is often detected by a dentist or dental hygienist during regular checkups. If left untreated gums and bone can become so seriously damaged, that teeth can fall out or have to be removed.

The Causes of Gum Disease

The major cause of periodontal disease is the interaction between the bacteria found in plaque - the sticky, virtually invisible film that collects on teeth every day - and the body’s response to that bacteria. These bacteria create toxins that irritate and inflame the gums. This inflammatory process destroys the gum tissues and causes them to separate from the teeth. If left untreated, the disease advances to damage the underlying bone.

When plaque is not removed from the teeth regularly, it forms a hard, porous substance called calculus, or tartar. If calculus forms on the roots of the teeth below the gum line, it irritates the gums even further and contributes to even more plaque collection and disease. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove plaque and calculus from your teeth.

Once the bacteria in plaque have created inflammation and damage to the gum tissue occurs, a number of other factors can contribute to the severity of periodontal disease and the rate at which it progresses. Among them are:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poorly fitting bridges
  • Badly aligned teeth
  • Defective fillings
  • Food impacted between teeth
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Poor diet
  • Pregnancy or oral contraceptives
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes or AIDS
  • Certain medications

The Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

While the early symptoms of periodontal disease can only be detected by a dentist, there are other indicators that start to appear as the disease progresses. Symptoms like:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that have shifted or loosened
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Teeth that look longer because gums have receded
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting
  • Changes in the way partial dentures fit

If you have any of these symptoms, you may have some form of periodontal disease and should contact us so we can accurately diagnose and prescribe treatment accordingly.

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing every day, eating a balanced diet and scheduling regular checkups with us are essential to keeping periodontal disease at bay. And by doing so, you'll increase your chances of keeping your teeth for a lifetime.

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Myton Park Dental Centre, Myton Road, Ingleby Barwick, Cleveland, TS17 0WA