Get the Facts Before It’s Too Late
Do you happen to know what the leading cause of tooth loss is in Australian adults? If you (logically) answered tooth decay then you aren't actually quite right. Although decay is responsible for more than its share of damage it is actually gum disease that wrecks the most havoc. And many adults often don't even know they have it until it's almost too late...
What is Gum Disease Anyway?
Gum disease - a condition that is also known by the posh scientific names of gingivitis and periodontitis - is primarily caused by plaque, just like tooth decay is. A plaque build up will damage the teeth but it won't stop there, it will damage the very structures that support the teeth, the gums doing damage that can, at times, be harder to treat than tooth decay is.
Gum disease can progress without ever showing any major symptoms. However all of the following can be big warning signs that all in the Land of Gum is not quite right:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding after brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
- Gums that are recede or pulling away from the teeth, making teeth look longer than before
- Teeth that feel looser than they did before
- Persistent bad breath
Treating Gum Disease
As is almost always the case, when it comes to gum disease prevention is better than cure. But more about that in a minute. For now let's focus on how it's treated
Gum disease comes in two stages; gingivitis and periodontitis. When caught while it's still gingivitis treatment is relatively straightforward. Your dentists will use a process called scaling - a type of super intense cleaning - and then instruct you on how to improve your oral hygiene to help prevent the problem coming back. Gingivitis is totally reversible and so with prompt treatment your gums will return to their former healthy state.
Periodontitis is a bit of a different matter. It's usually more serious and calls for first more intensive scaling. You may need a local anaesthetic before the treatment and it may have to continue over the course of several treatments. In the most severe cases periodontitis may even need to be surgically treated by a dental specialist called a periodontist, one who has specialist in training in gum disease and its treatment.
Preventing Gum Disease
So we're sure by now that you've figured it out for yourself. Gum disease can be successfully treated by your dentist but it really would be a lot better - and easier - if it never came to that in the first place.
Daily oral hygiene is a big key to the prevention of gum disease. Teeth need to be brushed at least twice a day with a good toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. Smoking also increases the chance you'll develop gum disease so that is yet another reason to stop. Consider investing in an antibacterial mouthwash to be used on a regular basis and DO NOT skip those regular cleaning appointments at your dentist's office.
The Emergency Dentist Says: