Gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, is a common condition characterised by symptoms such as persistent bad breath, red or swollen gums, bleeding gums
Periodontal disease affects the tissues, such as gums that support and attaches your teeth. This is caused, among other things, by bacterial plaque. Poor oral hygiene is a contributing factor, but it can be hereditary. Foods that are high in acid can also irritate your gums. Maybe you even brush too overzealously.
Gum disease is one of the most common oral diseases in the world,but it may show no immediate symptoms in its initial stage, because there are different stages of gum disease, and therefore it could pose a subtle danger.
What are the first signs of gum disease?
Inflamed gums are usually a strong indication of the onset of gum disease, as well as bleeding gums. Unexplained bleeding of the gums can occur when you brush or floss your teeth and may indicate possible gingivitis, but a proper examination by a dentist will confirm this.
The advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis, and it causes the bone and gum tissue that supports your teeth to be slowly destroyed.The bone around your tooth forms a seal with your gums so that harmful bacteria cannot end up in your bloodstream. Gum disease destroys this seal, and more bacteria now end up in your bloodstream. This drastically increases your chances of, among other things, heart disease and diabetes.
Causes and consequences
If plaque is not removed from the teeth, bacteria can cause the gums to swell. Later, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and the plaque, which is full of bacteria, can grow below the gum line. Once the bacteria have penetrated to this point, the inflammation worsens, and it begins to destroy the bone and gum tissue. Gum disease can also affect your ability to chew your food properly.
Experts say that gum disease is a source of chronic inflammation and the link between the latter and age-related diseases – even Alzheimer’s – is strong, studies have shown. Up to 90% of patients in hospital cardiovascular wards have one or more teeth with signs of it,although it is far from being full-blown gum disease.
How is gum disease treated?
Consult a qualified dentist to determine the health of your teeth and gums. In the early stages, gum disease can be reversed, but once periodontitis has already developed, the goal is to prevent the disease from further destroying the bone and tissue around the teeth. Dentists use specialised tools that can remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, above as well as below the gum line.
Modern technology such as laser can also be used effectively against periodontal diseases. It is often used during a root canal treatment to destroy bacteria and thus improve the long-term success of the treatment.
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