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Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or gingivitis, is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones surrounding your teeth.

Gum disease is the 5th most common health issue affecting 23% of Australians, and in 2016 was the 11th most prevalent worldwide disease. The best way to prevent gum disease is by practising good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing each day.

 

Understanding Gum Disease

Gum disease spreads rather quickly, so it is best to catch it as early as possible. It is extremely common but easily treated, if treated early on. The best way to do this is to ensure that you are routinely visiting your dentist for checkups and cleanings.

Outside of being one of the biggest contributors to tooth loss, gum disease is linked to other diseases as well, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Investing in your dental health is key to maintaining your overall health.

 

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors involved with gum disease. Knowing if you are at risk allows you to take extra steps in prevention, such as routine dental visits and proper brushing habits. Some of the risk factors include tobacco use, age, stress, medications, poor diet, and obesity. Any existing systemic diseases may contribute to causes of gum disease and tooth loss as well, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disease. 

 

Symptoms

Gum disease occurs when bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that forms on the teeth, becomes overgrown between the gums and the teeth. This is one of the biggest causes of gum disease and tooth loss in Australia and the world.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis, and this is when the severity of gum disease begins to affect the jawbone and cause bone loss.

The telltale sign of gum disease is blood during or after brushing and flossing. Other symptoms include swollen and tender gums, receding gum line, sores in your mouth, and persistent bad breath, tooth sensitivity, and teeth that are loose or shifting. 

In some cases, reddish gums and occasional bleeding while brushing or flossing are the only outward signs of severe gum disease. The only way to ensure gum disease hasn’t developed into periodontitis is to have regular check-ups with your dentist.

According to a 2017 study, people with advanced periodontal disease who were also smokers or former smokers have a 14-20% increased chance of developing cancer. In studies that examined non-smokers, there was a 13% increased risk of cancer in men.

 

Tooth Loss

The bacteria and inflammation begin to break down the tissue of the gums and eventually moves to the jawbone, compromising the structural support of the teeth. It is important to remember that gum disease and tooth loss are typically preventable. 

 

Diagnosis

If you are experiencing signs of gum disease, it is important to contact a dentist right away and set up an appointment for an examination. During the examination, you can expect the dentist to check your gums for signs of inflammation and infection. They may use a tool called a probe to check the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. The average depth is between 1 and 3 millimetres. 

Your dentist will ask you about your family history and any existing medical conditions you might have, whether or not you are on medications, and if you are a smoker. This information provides insight into certain risk factors you may have, and it is important to answer these questions thoroughly and honestly because your dentist is committed to your oral health and your overall well-being.  Your dentist may also want to take some X-Rays. 

 

Treatment

The purpose of treatment in gum disease is to control and eliminate the infection and to prevent tooth loss. The success of treatment lies within the patient’s willingness to implement and maintain a good oral hygiene practice at home. 

The dentist provides a thorough deep-clean to remove excess plaque and any tartar build-up. They then provide you with an at-home regimen that may include brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and using a medicated mouthwash. They also recommend that you visit the dentist regularly for routine cleanings. If you are a smoker, it is best for your overall health to quit.

 

Final Thoughts

At Top Health Dental, we have been serving the Ryde community and surrounding neighbourhoods since 2014. We are dedicated to providing gentle and affordable quality dental care. Whether you think you might be suffering from gum disease, or just want to find a friendly family dentist, give Top Health Dental a call today on (02) 8776 3232. We look forward to looking after your smile!