Gum Disease

Gum Disease

Although gum disease is a very common condition, people are often unaware they have it. Early signs and symptoms are easily missed or ignored, but it is important that we catch it during its early stages. If left to progress beyond that, it can cause more severe problems.

Gum disease is caused by plaque (soft, white & sticky substance) that builds up daily on our teeth. If plaque is not removed, it can turn into hard tartar (calculus). Plaque and tartar cause gum infection (gingivitis), which shows as redness, swelling and soreness. If gum infection persists long enough it can start to break down the gum tissue and even the bone that supports the tooth. That is when we call it periodontitis.

Gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss after the age of 35. Over ½ of adults over the age of 35 are already in the early stages of gum disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Soreness
  • Receding Gums
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth moving (becoming longer or spaces appearing between teeth)

How to look after your gums

The stages of gum disease

Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, which is an infection of the collar of gum that surrounds the tooth. The gums become irritated, swollen and bleed easily. This stage of gum disease is easily treated by meticulous cleaning at home and by your dentist and/or oral hygienist.

Periodontitis

If gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to periodontitis. Persistent gingivitis breaks the attachment between tooth and gum, allowing the infection to penetrate deeper and to erode the jaw bone which supports the tooth. This leaves pockets that are too deep to clean. If left untreated, these pockets will deepen, more jawbone will be lost, and eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. Despite the destructive nature of this process, there may only be mild symptoms, even at a later stage.

Like all chronic diseases, gum disease does not go away. It will not get better by itself. As the condition worsens, it is harder to treat successfully. That is why it is best to initiate treatment as soon as possible.

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