Gum disease occurs when the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth becomes infected. The symptoms of gum disease include inflammation, redness, bleeding, bad breath and sponginess of the gums.
Types of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the mildest and most common form of periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene causes accumulation of dental plaque at the junction of the tooth and the gum. As a result, the gums become inflamed, with common visual signs being redness, swelling, and bleeding. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. However, bleeding gums are a sign of disease, as healthy gums do not bleed, and this can lead to more serious problems. Gingivitis is reversible with professional tooth cleaning and good regular oral care at home, so it is important to seek professional assessment if gum bleeding is detected during brushing or eating.
When gingivitis is unable to be controlled the inflammation progresses to periodontitis, a common chronic disease that affects at least 25% of the adult population. Periodontitis is caused by dental plaque that contains destructive bacteria that result in the loss of the supporting structures around the teeth (gum and bone). This causes the formation of ‘pockets’ around the teeth and/or recession of the gums.
As with gingivitis, poor oral hygiene is a risk factor for periodontitis, as are various systemic diseases (eg diabetes) and harmful habits (eg smoking). Genetic predisposition is a major contributor to the risk of developing periodontitis, and patients with a family history of periodontitis should have their gum health closely monitored.
Although periodontitis is not usually painful, common signs of the disease include gum recession and mobility of the teeth. If untreated, periodontitis may result in the loss of teeth. With appropriate professional care the condition can usually be stabilised.
How do you prevent gum disease?
It is important to have good oral hygiene and brush your teeth and gums twice daily. Bleeding gums are an early warning sign and indicate that you should be brushing and flossing more, not less.
Regular visits to the dentist for a check-up and clean is an important part of prevention and/or catching symptoms early.
If you are concerned, let us know at your next appointment. Greg, Nick or Ally will identify if you are at risk and will help you manage and treat any symptoms.