Gum disease affects most people at some stage during their lifetime. Different people seem to have different susceptibility to gum disease. It is usually caused by a build up of plaque on your teeth. There are two main stages:
1. Gingivitis is early gum disease. Signs of it are bleeding from the gums (especially when brushing), redness and swelling.
2. Periodontitis is more advanced gum disease. It may occur when gingivitis is left untreated. Signs are similar to gingivitis but may also include bad breath (halitosis) and loose teeth. You may also notice the build up of hard brown/yellow deposits along the gum line. As more plaque and tartar (calculus) builds up near the gum line the gum starts to separate from the tooth. This then destroys the bone holding the tooth firmly in position.
Treatment of gum disease involves minimising the bacteria that live in our mouths. This will require better brushing and flossing (see Iris’ videos on brushing and flossing) as well as seeing your dentist or hygienist for preventive cleaning. It’s tempting when your gums are sore or bleeding to avoid cleaning them, but improved cleaning is essential to stop the situation.
What is very interesting is that gum disease can lead to other health issues. Now a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that treating gum disease can lead to better general health. Gum disease is linked to greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even premature birth in pregnant women. The research seems to indicate that amongst other things chronic inflammation (the bodies response to infection or injury) can be reduced by eliminating gum disease.
So, if you notice any of the signs of gum disease then it’s really important to floss and brush well along with seeing your dentist or hygienist. This is especially important if you are pregnant, have a history of heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes. Iris Buenaventura our hygienist along with our dentists Dr. Ray Singh, Professor Ky-Anh Nguyen and Dr. Clare Cheung are all trained in helping to treat your gum disease.