Wellness Tips | 28 February, 2018

Gum Disease – Everything You Need To Know

Have you noticed a little pink when you spit toothpaste after brushing your teeth? It might be nothing to worry about, but it could also be the start of periodontal gum disease.

Around 22.9% of the population in Australia suffer from gum disease. Gum disease is strongly linked to age, with older generations having a much higher prevalence than younger people. 


So what exactly is gum disease?

Gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease, is an inflammation caused by active bacteria in gingival or gum tissues and if this inflammation isn't taken care of, it can advance to the supporting ligaments and bones of teeth.

Symptoms of gum disease may include:

  • Receding gums, loose or separating teeth
  • Bleeding gums after flossing or brushing your teeth
  • Discharge between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • The way your teeth bite together changes
  • The way your partial denture fit changes

What exactly causes gum disease?

Your mouth is full of bacteria which serves as a necessary and healthy bodily function. Until it starts to accumulate on your teeth that is, at this point forming plaque.

Plaque is a colourless, sticky film, which continually forms on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque release acids causing tooth decay which will irritate your gum tissues. If plaque is not removed it hardens with the mineral ions in saliva and forms calculus, also known as tartar.

Calculus can only be removed by seeing your dental health professional for an oral hygiene appointment. Periodontal disease is typically asymptomatic (not showing any signs) until the advanced stages. The most common factors of periodontal disease are genetic and environmental factors.

Factors that may contribute to gum disease include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Diabetes
  • Medication
  • Systemic diseases and conditions
  • Stress smoking
  • Ageing
  • Poor nutrition
  • Puberty and hormonal instabilities
  • Pregnancy
  • HIV infection and substance abuse

How you can prevent periodontal gum disease from happening?

Prevention is the best form of protection against gum disease and if you speak to any Maven Dental Group professional they will advise that the best form of prevention for gum disease is regular dental checkups. Regular visits encourage better oral health and will often be a cheaper alternative to seeing a dentist only when you have an issue.

In addition to this, a healthy oral health care routine is imperative. A good daily oral health routine may include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day, use a soft toothbrush
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush
  • Floss daily
  • Use a mouth rinse, if recommended by your dentist 
  • Use an interdental cleaner, such as an interdental brush
  • Regular cleaning by your dental healthcare professional
  • Giving up smoking
  • A healthy balanced diet

I think I may have gum disease, what should I do?

Making an appointment with your local dentist is recommended if you haven't been to the dentist in 6 months or you think you might have gum disease. Each case of gum disease is different however and your trusted dental professional will be able to administer the right kind of care for your situation.


The Stages of Periodontal Gum Disease :

Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, commonly you won’t experience any discomfort. The gums, or gingiva, bleed easily and become swollen and red, this is commonly caused by inadequate or poor oral hygiene. With professional treatment and good oral hygiene care at home, generally, gingivitis is reversible. If gingivitis remains untreated, it can advance to periodontitis.

If the plaque is left untreated and continues to form, it may spread to below the gums. Toxins are produced by the bacteria in the plaque and can irritate the gums; these toxins promote a chronic inflammatory response, and the tissues and bone that support teeth are damaged and destroyed. The gum tissue separates from the tooth forming spaces between the teeth and gums, called a pocket, which becomes infected.

Advanced periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease. In this stage, the pockets around the teeth deepen, and the bone and fibres supporting teeth are mostly destroyed. This can cause teeth to move or loosen and can affect the way you bite. If the event that professional treatment is unable to save the teeth, the teeth may need to be removed.


How gingivitis and periodontitis will be treated by a professional?

The objective of treatment is to carefully clean the pockets around teeth to prevent further damage to surrounding tissue fibres and bone.

Your dental treatment may include:

  • Scaling and cleaning to remove the plaque, calculus and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and beneath your gums
  • Root planing. Root planing is a process used by dentists to remove the calculus and bacterial byproducts that enhance gum inflammation. This process will aid the reattachment process of the gum tissues to the tooth surface; leaving the root surface smooth and discouraging the further buildup of calculus and bacteria
  • Your dental healthcare professional may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics that may assist in controlling bacterial infection
  • If you have advanced periodontitis you may require surgical treatment, flap surgery, tissue or bone grafting

Each patients circumstance is different and each prescribed treatment may be different, so we encourage you to get in touch with a professional to talk about how you feel. If you would like to talk to one of our friendly dentist's about your oral health care, please get in touch.