Seeking dental advice is vital if you pick up any signs of gum problems. The quicker you receive treatment, the more chance you have to save your teeth and gums and avoid major damage to the bones supporting your teeth. It will also possibly keep you from endangering your general health, and even your life.
Gum disease can result in loss of teeth by affecting the bone and soft tissue that support them. This will have aesthetic as well as functional effects. Your cheeks can hollow and sag, and wrinkles appear around the mouth following tooth loss. Functionally, losing teeth or bone can
affect your speech, chewing ability, and your bite.
Gum Disease Links to Serious Diseases
Gum disease can have serious consequences, leading to disease such as bacterial heart disease, which attaches to the valves of the heart, or the heart itself. There is also an established link with strokes, diabetes and osteoarthritis, and gum disease can even lead to oral cancer.
Types of gum disease
Gum disease in its mildest form, gingivitis, is fairly easily treatable. The more severe form, Periodontitis, can damage the soft tissue and bone which form the support structure for your teeth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, and possibly lead to further disease in the body.
Prevention & treatment at home
Prevention of gum disease starts with a good and regular oral hygiene program. This reduces the build-up of bacteria-infested plaque which arises from food particles and acidity in the mouth. It sticks to the tooth surface, and, if ignored, calcifies into tartar, which is harder to remove, and builds up under the gum line.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HELP KEEP PLAQUE AT BAY INCLUDE:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day using an up and down motion, working gently with a soft or medium brush so you don’t damage the enamel.
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
- Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, and when you can’t, rinse your mouth with water about an hour after finishing.
- Try to quit smoking or using tobacco products.
- Watch for changes in your gums like swelling, recession, bleeding, tenderness or inflammation, and notice if your teeth feel loose.
- Regular dental check-ups will help your dentist keep an eye on developments in your mouth.
Your dentist has a few options to take when treating gum disease. The main aim will be infection control.
Medication your dentist will recommend while you are undergoing treatment can include various antibiotic, antimicrobial and antibacterial medications, as well as gels and mouthwashes. These are aimed at controlling bacteria and infection, and reducing bone loss and the size of periodontal pockets.
Root planing and scaling involves removing tartar and smoothing roughness on your tooth and root surfaces. This helps prevent new tartar build-up, and allows the gums to heal naturally and re-attach to the smooth surfaces created.
Pocket Reduction surgery is used to clean, and reduce the size of, pockets which form in the gum tissue around your teeth, after tartar builds up. These pockets can no longer support the teeth, and are hard to clean. Once the surgery has fully cleaned and smoothed the surfaces and reduced the size of the pockets, gum tissue can once again attach to and support the teeth.
Gum Grafts: When gums recede, exposed root surfaces can lead to sensitivity, decay and even bone loss. The exposed roots can be surgically covered by grafting tissue from other areas of the body.
Bone Grafts: When Periodontal Disease destroys the bone in the jaw, the missing bone can be replaced with natural or synthetic bone after the bacteria has been removed. Proteins with a tissue-stimulating function are inserted to help re-grow the tissue and the bone.
Taking action, sooner rather than later, can make all the difference in avoiding the scary outcomes of gum disease. Preventing its onset in the first place, makes even more sense. See your dentist immediately if you are at all concerned about the condition of your gums.