Health Advice: Gum Diseases
The different stages of gum disease:
There are two main stages, they are:
Plaque is a colourless film made up of a combination of bacteria, saliva and acids. Plaque appears as a sticky deposit on the teeth.Gingivitis is early gum disease. It occurs when dental plaque builds up on teeth, particularly where the gum joins the tooth. The signs of gingivitis are bleeding, redness and swelling of the gum.
Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that may occur if gingivitis left untreated. The gum margin, – the part of the gum that seals to the tooth, – is weakened and spaces form between the tooth and the gum. These spaces are called ‘periodontal pockets.’ Bacteria and their products become trapped in these pockets causing further inflammation (redness and swelling). The structures which are affected include the covering of the tooth root (cementum), the bone and the fibres that connect the cementum to the bone (periodontal ligament).
As the disease progresses and bone is lost, larger spaces begin to form between the tooth and the gum. Signs of periodontitis include bleeding, swelling and receding gums together with bad breath, a bad taste in the mouth and loose teeth.
Maintenance of oral hygiene helps prevent gum disease
You should clean your teeth twice every day with a soft, small-headed toothbrush, especially along the gumline where the gum meets the tooth. This ensures the gum tissue and supporting structures remain healthy. The careful use of dental floss between teeth also assists in removal of plaque. While it is tempting to avoid cleaning your gums when they are inflamed and bleeding, brushing will help improve the situation. Massaging your gums after each time you brush stimulates it and helps keeps gums healthy.
Seek dental care
Early intervention to treat gum diseases can ensure the longevity of your teeth. If you have swollen or bleeding gums or your teeth feel loose, go see your dentist immediately.
The dentist will examine your gums with a probe to measure the spaces between the tooth and gum. This will determine the health of your gums and supporting structures. If necessary, the dentist will instruct you in tooth cleaning techniques or may clean your teeth professionally to remove any plaque and calculus (hardened plaque).
Things to remember:
- Regular cleaning and maintenance of oral hygiene can help prevent gum diseases
- Seeking help early can save teeth that are at risk from gum diseases and other dental conditions
- Visit your dentist regularly
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