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Gum disease

Gum disease is a soreness, infection or swelling of the tissues that support the teeth. Two main forms of gum disease affect people. They include gingivitis and periodontal disease.

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What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums occurs when the gums surrounding the teeth become swollen and red. The swollen gums often bleed when you brush or clean your teeth.

What is periodontal disease?

Untreated gingivitis can result in periodontal disease. Different types of periodontal disease occur, and they affect the tissues that support the teeth. As the disease worsens, the bond holding the teeth into the jaw reduces, making the teeth become loose. If left untreated, the teeth may fall out.

Am I at risk of gum disease?

Most people experience a form of gum disease at some point in their life, and it is the most common reason for tooth loss in adults. However, gum disease develops slowly in most people, and its rate can be slowed down, allowing you to retain most of your teeth.

What can cause gum disease?

Gum disease occurs from plaque. Plaque is a thin collection of bacteria on the teeth' surface. Many bacteria in plaque are harmless, but some can cause gum disease. You can prevent gum disease by removing plaque from your teeth every day.

This is possible by brushing and cleaning between your teeth using floss or interdental brushes.

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How does smoking affect my teeth and gums?

Smoking can worsen gum disease. Smokers are more likely to develop bacterial plaque, which can cause gum disease. Smoking affects the gums because it causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, which makes infected gums less likely to heal. Smoking also leads to more plaque and faster progress of gum disease than in non-smokers.

What is the effect of untreated gum disease?

Gum disease doesn't often cause pain, even as it progresses, so you may not notice its damage. However, the bacteria may also be more active, causing the gums to become sore. This may lead to gum abscesses and pus production from around the teeth.

Over time, the bone supporting the teeth may be lost, and untreated gum disease will make treatment more difficult.

What should I do if I suspect gum disease?

First, visit your dental care provider for a thorough check-up of your gums and teeth. Your provider will measure the cuff of gum around each tooth to check for early signs of periodontal disease. You may also need a dental x-ray to check the amount of bone loss. This assessment is vital to provide the right treatment.

What are the necessary treatments?

Your dentist will remove the tartar and plaque on your teeth. The provider will also show you how to remove plaque on your teeth at home and clean all your teeth surfaces effectively and thoroughly. Your teeth cleaning may need several sessions with the dentist.

Your oral hygiene at home, which will involve interdental cleaning and brushing, is vital to prevent your gum disease from worsening.

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What other things do I need?

After your teeth cleaning, your dental care provider may need to perform root canal treatment or root planing to ensure the removal of all bacteria in the tooth. This may involve numbing the area. Discomfort for up to 48 hours is common after root planing.

How can I know if I have gum disease?

The first indicator of gum disease is blood in your toothpaste when you spit out or on your toothbrush while cleaning your teeth. You may also experience bleeding gums after eating, a bad mouth taste, or bad breath.

Can I get periodontal disease again?

No cure is available for periodontal disease, but you can control it with the right care at home. A good oral care routine can prevent or slow down further bone loss. Ensure you remove plaque daily and attend regular dental checks.

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Is gum disease linked to other health conditions?

Recent research has linked gum disease with general health conditions like stroke, poor pregnancy outcomes, dementia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. More research is necessary to understand these links, but more evidence is available to show that a healthy mouth and gums can reduce the cost of your medical treatment and improve your general health.

If you think you have gum disease or notice its symptoms, ensure you visit McKennell Dental Practice at 21 Churton Street, London SW1V 2LY, to see our dental team. You can also call 020 7834 8802 for an appointment with our dentist.