Keeping gums healthy is as important as keeping your teeth healthy, as they work together to sustain our oral health. There are two stages of gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is called Gingivitis, and it entails swelling of gums, bleeding, and redness caused by dental plaque build-up along the gum line. The second stage is called Periodontitis, which is the advanced stage of Gingivitis, when the gum line recedes and creates a pocket in between the tooth and the gum. The bacteria in the pocket would cause pain, redness, swelling, bleeding, bad breath, and even loose teeth, if the bone is affected.
Proper brushing and flossing will help relieve the problem…even if the gums bleed. To prevent gum disease, regular check-ups are highly recommended.
Gum disease symptoms
It’s really important to spot the early signs of gum disease and tackle them before they turn into something more serious. Here’s what to look out for:
Early signs of gum disease
- Gums that bleed when you brush
- Gums that look red and inflamed
Advanced signs of gum disease
- Bad breath and/or a nasty taste in your mouth
- Gaps between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Gum abscesses
If you experience any of the above symptoms make an appointment to see your dentist. They aren’t always an indication of gum disease so it’s important to receive a professional diagnosis.
To assess the extent of your gum disease, your dentist will carefully examine your gums and they may also need to take some X-rays to check your bone levels.
Treating gum disease
Gum disease is usually caused by a build-up of plaque, which contains bacteria that irritate your gums. For most patients, the early signs of gum disease can be treated by improving their oral hygiene routine and ensuring plaque is effectively removed daily by brushing and flossing.
When plaque is left on the teeth it will eventually turn into tartar, also known as calculus. If this does happen you’ll need to visit your dentist or hygienist so it can be removed using specialist tools.
If your gum disease is more advanced you will need more proactive treatment and we may refer you to see a specialist periodontist. A periodontist is a dental specialist who has been specially trained to treat and manage conditions affecting the gums.
Treatments for more severe gum disease include:
Root planning – this involves carefully cleaning the roots of your teeth to remove plaque and tartar.
Root debridement – this is similar to root planning but more thorough. It includes cleaning the root surface as well as the pocket between your gums and teeth and the underlying tissues.
Soft tissue graft – if gums have receded they can sometimes be ‘rebuilt’ through a gum graft, where tissue is taken from another area to replace what’s been lost.
The Pinhole Technique – this is a newer alternative treatment to a gum graft, which involves stretching the gum you have to cover any recession.
Bone graft – we can also replace depleted bone by performing a bone graft using bone from a different area of your mouth or body, or synthetic bone.
Guided tissue regeneration – this involves stimulating and guiding the growth of your bone and soft tissues using barrier membranes. These membranes keep the gum tissue and bone separate so they can regrow in the correct proportions.
Tooth Extraction – if a tooth cannot be saved it may be necessary to remove it and replace it with a bridge, dental implant or denture.
Sometimes your dentist or periodontist will prescribe antibiotics to take during your treatment. Some treatments such as root planning may also require a local anaesthetic to ensure you don’t experience any discomfort.
To find out more about managing and preventing gum disease, visit our team at Blackburn Clinic Dental Centre for a comprehensive dental health check.
Dental treatments carry risks. Before proceeding, you should seek an opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.