Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is often painless and the signs can be easy to miss. There are a number of symptoms of gum disease ranging from gums that bleed when you brush, to gum recession and right through to teeth that are mobile and may well need to be extracted.
With that in mind, we all wonder what is the likelihood of gum disease impacting me?
Jason Alfrey has been an Oral Health Therapist with Maven Dental for over 10 years working in our Sunshine Coast and Gympie practices. Jason helped us take a closer look at how gum disease is impacting Australians.
Looking at the research, approximately 0-10% of the population have no gum disease. These are the lucky ones, with a good oral health care routine, including regular brushing and flossing, they are able to keep their gums healthy. This group will usually only need to visit the dentists once a year for a check-up and clean, although they may continue their routine six-monthly check-ups to keep on top of their oral health.
Approximately 35-40% of the population has gum disease that is reversible (gingivitis). By combining a trip to have a professional clean every six months with good oral health care at home these individuals are able to maintain stable oral health.
Approximately 25-35% will have early irreversible gum disease (early periodontitis). These individuals will be at the dentist every 4-6 months having professional gum care and clean in order to maintain and stabilise their oral health and prevent it getting worse.
Finally, this leaves 5-15% of the population experiencing severe gum disease (severe periodontitis). If you’re in this group you’ve become well accustomed with your dentist, seeing them on average every 3-4 months for intensive gum care and most likely under the care of a periodontist. As dental professionals, we’re trying to salvage what we can for these individuals in order to slow and prevent tooth loss.
Like all chronic conditions, gum disease severity worsens with age, and therefore prevention and management is key to maintaining good oral health throughout your life.
The mouth is a window into the health of your body. People with gum disease are at a higher risk for other systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc. The state of inflammation in the mouth has a clear impact on systemic diseases. With this in mind, it pays to look after your pearly whites, not just to maintain your pleasant smile but to ensure your reducing your risks of other health concerns.
Simple lifestyle changes such as great diet, good oral health routine (flossing and brushing) combined with gum care and risk assessment by your dental professional can help limit the risk of gum disease developing or progressing.
Peterson P.E, Ogawa H. (2012) 'The Global Burden of Periodontal Disease: Towards integration with chronic disease prevention and control.'Periodontology 2000. Vol 60 15-39.