Did you know that many people suffer from gum disease without actually being aware of it? It is one of those hidden health issues that can be easily overlooked, yet can cause a lot of damage to your oral health.
When we book our regular check-ups with our dentist we are often concerned with the health of our teeth rather than the state of our gums. When we have a toothache or have suffered damage to a tooth that is causing us pain we can be very aware that there is an issue that the dentist needs to look at and fix.
With gum disease, the symptoms are a little more difficult to spot or recognise. The fact that it can often be painless can make it even more likely to be overlooked than a physically damaged tooth.
How does gum disease start?
Gum disease is a condition that slowly creeps up to a level where it can cause major concerns. Usually, the first stages begin with a build-up of a sticky substance on your teeth and along the gum line called plaque.
If not properly removed, plaque build-up can cause gingivitis. This is the early stage of gum disease and common symptoms are red sore gums and bleeding when lightly examined with a dental probe. Your dentist will be looking for this when they conduct your routine dental check-up. Should your dentist discover gingivitis, they will be able to give you appropriate treatment options that are often minimal and pain-free.
You may need to have regular deep cleaning appointments with your dental hygienist and be shown how to properly clean and floss your teeth at home. By following their advice your gingivitis can usually be reversed and any further damage to your teeth and gums prevented.
More advanced gum disease
If left untreated, gingivitis can quickly go on to develop a degenerative disease in your gums called periodontitis. Even if your dentist discovers you have periodontitis they can still successfully treat the condition, but this will be via more invasive techniques that can be a much more uncomfortable experience for you. Treatments could include scaling and deep cleaning the surface of your roots and the removal of plaque build-up from below the gum line.
Periodontitis is a condition that doesn’t just affect your gums. It can also work into the bones of your jaw and cause bone and tissue loss that helps to support your teeth. Should your dentist spot this degeneration happening, they may refer you to a specialist called a periodontist. The periodontist will be able to recommend and carry out more technical procedures to help rebuild the tissues that have been lost.
Spotting the signs of gum disease
While the best plan of action to prevent gum disease is to ensure you book regular dental check-ups with your dentist as per their recommendation. You can also make sure you brush and floss effectively and also be on the lookout for any of the following gum disease symptoms. If you suspect you have any of these symptoms, bring them to the attention of your dentist as soon as possible:
- Changes in your bite and chewing
- Gums that bleed easily while brushing
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Loose permanent teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus or secretions in between the teeth
- Swollen, red gums
Even if you think your teeth are healthy you could still be suffering from hidden gum disease. Make sure you don’t miss your regular dental check-ups where your dentist will be able to spot any signs of gum disease and treat it before it becomes a serious issue.