Gum disease is often a big problem for many of our patients.
Not only does it make your breath smell and leave a metallic taste in your mouth, but it eats away at your gums, causing dark triangular pockets to form between teeth as the gums begin to recede.
When gum recession happens, teeth can become wobbly and loose!
Once this happens, tooth loss is very likely. And if you have already lost one tooth, you can likely expect to lose more.
If you smoke, problems often occur first with the gums at the back of your mouth. The tar in cigarettes coats the gums and causes irritation. Smokers, therefore, have more tartar which also adds to poor oral health.
The main known causes of gum disease
Our mouths are the perfect homes for bacteria, so there’s no surprise that they are full of it.
It’s because of bacteria, alongside mucus and other particles that consistently form sticky, colourless plaque on teeth.
Good oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing, can help remove plaque.
When it is not removed it hardens on the teeth and forms tartar, which brushing will be unable to clean.
Only dental professionals can effectively remove tartar.
Other well-known common causes of gum disease:
- Plaque build-up
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Female hormonal changes
- Prescription medication
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Crooked teeth
- Family history and genetics
Why you need to understand plaque
Gums attach to the teeth at a lower point. This forms a space called sulcus, which food often gets trapped in.
When the food is not cleaned away, it becomes trapped in this space and then causes a gum infection (gingivitis).
Plaque is a very thin film of bacteria, which constantly forms on the surface of the teeth.
As this plaque advances, it gets harder and turns into tartar. This cannot be removed through cleaning alone.
Left unchecked and ignored, gingivitis can quickly cause the gums to separate from the teeth, which leaves the tooth vulnerable as it becomes unstable, loose and wobbly.
This is often a sure sign of receding gums. If the infection progresses, you will ultimately lose your teeth.
Does gum disease go away?
Not on its own.
It’s also important to bear in mind that once you’ve reached a certain stage of periodontal disease (advanced periodontal disease) that it cannot be cured, but it can be treated.
If gum disease is found in the early stages it can be reversed, and there are certain treatments we can use to reattach gums to the teeth, however, if gums begin to recede there is no way to make them grow back.
That’s why every dentist, implantologist and periodontist makes the claim that treating your gum disease as soon as you spot the signs is crucially important.
Whilst there are several risk factors for gum disease, smoking is probably one of the most significant.
Continuing to smoke whilst undergoing treatment for gum disease can also make it less successful.
Other risk factors include diabetes, hormonal changes, medications and genetic susceptibility.
The best treatment for gum infections:
Whilst a dentist can help to properly treat symptoms of gingivitis, it’s important that you also do your part. You should cut back on smoking and keep up with a rigorous oral hygiene routine.
Deep tooth cleaning: Involves scaling to remove tartar from above and below the gum line. Then, root planing to smooth rough spots and remove plaque or tartar from the root surface. Lasers can also be used to remove tartar with less pain or bleeding.
Antibiotic medications: Antiseptic mouthwash or oral antibiotics can be used to treat persistent areas of inflammation and disinfect the mouth.
Surgery: This can include flap surgery; bone grafts (necessary for dental implants) and guided tissues regeneration. A dentist will usually identify which will be the best treatment for your unique case.
Periodontal laser therapy: Lasers are being widely used to treat periodontal disease, which will stimulate stem cells to form new connective tissues and bone. Then, the body will use its healing process to regenerate these lost ligaments.
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