Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the gums and bones around the teeth and is the most common reason for tooth loss. It is estimated to impact more than half of adults in the UK. Gums can become red, swollen and bleed due to the presence of the bacteria in dental plaque. Many people have gum disease which has never been diagnosed or treated. What’s more, gum disease is linked to diabetes, heart disease and can affect mother and baby during pregnancy.
The symptoms of gum (periodontal) disease include:
- No symptoms
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing teeth or eating hard food such as an apple
- Red, swollen or painful gums
- Receding Gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- Teeth that appear to have moved position
- Persistent bad breath or taste
Whilst plaque is the main cause of gum disease, some people are more susceptible than others.
- Family history – some people may be genetically at risk to gum disease despite average oral hygiene, e.g. tooth brushing twice daily
- Smoking – smoking poses one of the most significant risk factors in developing periodontal disease. Smoking reduces blood flow to the gums which accelerates gum disease and can also mask any symptoms
- Stress – stress can make it harder for the body to fight off infection.
- Age – Older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease.
- Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis interfere with the body’s inflammatory system which in turn worsens the condition of the gums.
The most important thing to do is to attend regular check-ups with your dentist. At every dental checkup, the health of a patient’s gums are thoroughly checked and if needed radiographs are taken to assess the bone levels holding the teeth in place. We recommend all our patients to see our hygienist to help maintain meticulous plaque control in their at home cleaning routine, remove hard plaque and staining that may have formed on the teeth and prevent developing gum disease. Where there is well-established gum disease we refer our patients to see our periodontist for more extensive treatment.