Gum disease is a common condition where the gums become sore, swollen or infected. Most adults in the UK have gum disease to some degree, and most people experience it at least once. Read our article below for the symptoms, causes and treatments for gum disease.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease can be split into two ‘stages’ – Gingivitis and Periodontitis (sometimes called Periodontal Disease).
Gingivitis refers to the early stages of gum disease. At this point you may not even be aware you have gum disease. Initial symptoms can include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
If gingivitis is left untreated, the tissues and bone around the teeth can become affected. This second stage is called Periodontitis.
Symptoms of Periodontitis can include:
- Bad breath (Halitosis)
- An unpleasant/metallic taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Pus under the gums or teeth (gum abscesses)
If Periodontitis is not treated, your teeth may eventually fall out.
What causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be caused by a number of factors, but not brushing enough is the most common cause.
When you don’t brush enough, plaque builds up on your teeth. This plaque is a mix of bacteria and saliva. When you eat or drink things very sugary or starchy, the bacteria in plaque uses this as their energy source, while producing acid at the same time. It’s this acid that causes damage to your teeth. Some of the bacteria in plaque can also irritate your gums.
If plaque is left for a long time without being removed, it can harden into a substance called tartar. Tartar can usually only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
As well as not brushing enough, you may be at an increased risk of gum disease if you:
- Are older (Gum disease becomes more common with age)
- Have diabetes
- Are pregnant
- Have a weakened immune system
- Are malnourished
- Are stressed
You may also be more likely to develop gum disease if you take medicines that cause you to have a dry mouth.
How is Gum Disease treated?
The best treatment for gum disease is brushing properly, although further dental treatments might be required. If you are worried that you may have gum disease, you should book an appointment to discuss this with your dentist as soon as possible.
For more information on how to brush properly, check out our article here.
Some dental treatments that may be recommended can include a Scale and Polish to remove plaque and tartar, or Root Planing (Debridement) to deeply clean under the gums to remove bacteria from the roots of your teeth.
If you have severe gum disease, you may need further treatment, like Periodontal surgery. You may also need to have the affected tooth removed.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factor for gum disease. To read more on the link between smoking and gum disease, read our article here.
You can prevent gum disease by quitting smoking and brushing for at least 2 minutes, twice a day.