Gum disease is one of the most common reasons people need to see a dentist but it’s also one the most common reasons people put off seeing a dentist.
Moderate gum disease affects 22.9 per cent of the Australian population and while gum disease is strongly linked to age, with older generations having a much higher prevalence than younger people it can be controlled with good oral hygene and having regular checks with your dentist.
So, what exactly is gum disease?
Gum disease occurs when the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth becomes infected. A build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth that irritate your gum tissue cause it, resulting in inflammation and eventually recession of the gums away from your teeth. There are a few signs that you may have early gum disease including:
- Gums that are swollen, red, or tender
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Receding gums, or longer-looking teeth
- A change in the way your bite fits together
- Loose teeth
Types of gum disease
There are two main types of gum disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It occurs when the gums become red and swollen. The gums may also bleed easily when they are brushed. Bad breath is another sign of gum disease.
If gingivitis is not treated, it may cause a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis may cause the area of the gum closest to the tooth to become weak. Spaces may form between the tooth and the gum, and these may trap germs, leading to even more swelling. Over time, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost, causing the teeth to become loose and possibly fall out.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a sticky layer of germs that builds up on teeth. Plaque irritates the gums, causing them to bleed easily. If the plaque is not brushed off, it can become hard and further irritate the gums. Hardened plaque is called calculus or tartar. It can only be removed by a dental health professional.
How do you prevent gum disease?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent gum disease:
- The obvious one is to brush your teeth and gums twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. If you’re not already doing this, it’s time to start – now!
- Quit smoking. Overall, smoking is probably the single most significant, modifiable risk factor for periodontal diseases. If you need help on how to quit smoking check out some useful tips from the Australian Department of Health.
- You should also visit your dentist regularly for a check-up and cleaning. At Albany Dental we pride ourselves on focusing on preventative care with regular check-ups to prevent mild gum disease like gingivitis turning into severe periodontitis.
If you have any questions about gum disease, we are more than happy to answer any of your concerns.
Book an appointment today and we can start on your preventative plan.