What Is Gum Disease and How to Prevent It

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Gum disease, also known as 'Periodontitis,' is when the gums of the teeth become red and swollen, sore and bleed. Over 45% of people aged 30 or older, or 70% of those 65 or older, have some form of gum disease as it is a very common dental problem to occur.

The condition is more prevalent in men than women and most prevalent in smokers or those with a poor diet and regular alcohol intake. Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums, usually occurs before the onset of periodontitis (gum disease), but not in all cases. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth or eat hard foods, bad breath and gums shrinking and receding into the jawline. If not treated the disease may ultimately lead to the teeth becoming lose and falling out.

What Causes Gum Disease?

There are many causes of gum disease as it is linked to bacterial build up, which causes the gums to become inflamed (Gingivitis), sore and bleed upon brushing (gum disease). This bacteria build up can be caused by many things such as, hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy, bad dental habits and poor dental hygiene, medications like anticonvulsants which reduce saliva antibacterial activity, smoking. Plaque builds up on the teeth, which bacteria adhere to, and this causes the inflammation present in gum disease.

How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?

Gum disease is best diagnosed by a dental professional who will check your gums for any signs of receding, swelling or redness. They will poke your gums with a dental tool to check the gum firmness and see if the gum “bounces back” upon touch. A clear sign of gum disease is when pressure applied to the gum is maintained for longer than in healthy gum tissue. The deeper a dental pocket is upon touch, the more advanced the disease. They will also X-ray, check your jaw alignment to see if any teeth have moved and check your previous dental records and X-rays to ensure no teeth have changed alignment.

Treatments Of Gum Disease

The core goals of treatment of gum disease are to prevent progression of disease with improved dental hygiene (especially flossing and mouth wash use, which is a key preventative measure of gum disease) to limit the risk of tooth infection, and to promote gum and teeth attachment. Early intervention with gum disease is key to tooth loss prevention.

The dentist will also encourage smokers to cease smoking, promote gum shield use at night for tooth grinders and encourage patient avoidance of highly sugary or acidic foods which attack and damage the tooth enamel and cause premature tooth decay. They will also advise a healthy diet with lots of green leafy vegetables and vitamin C, as this is also essential in helping the body to fight any tooth infection that does occur.

A dentist will also scale (remove tartar and plaque from tooth surfaces) and may use root planning (smooth root surfaces to prevent bacteria and tartar plaque build-up) to remove the bacteria by-products that contribute to the progression of the gum disease.

Once gum infection has occurred, antibiotics are often prescribed to fight the tooth infection. Some teeth may also have to be removed if they are severely infected. There is also the option to have gum surgery to restore some gum. This may involve “flap surgery” which is when a dentist makes tiny incisions in the gum to lift back and smooth down surfaces of the gum for more effective scaling and tissue grafts. Tissue grafts involve taking sections of the roof of your mouth (the palate) and grafting them into the gums to prevent gum recession.

Dentists can also treat gum disease using bone grafting to restore the bone around the tooth root. There are also new and exciting emerging treatments, such as tissue-stimulating proteins, which is when a gel containing proteins that stimulate new tissue growth are placed on the gum. These more up-to-date clinical treatments are unfortunately not provided for on the NHS.  The NHS remit is prevention and management of gum disease. For complex treatments once gum disease has been diagnosed, patients must seek private assistance.

How Can GlobMed Help?

Gum disease treatments are a new and exciting world of dental medicine. Up until recently, the only option for a someone with gum disease, was to treat symptoms, and try and prevent further inflammation and infection. However, new treatments are emerging from tissue-stimulating proteins to gum grafting: these innovative new treatments can help prevent tooth loss rather than simply preventing or treating the symptoms of gum disease. However, the NHS does not have the budget to pay for such treatments.

GlobMed can help. Our consultants help dental patients find expert personalised dental services at affordable prices. We search the best of the UK dental professionals and worldwide to find the best and most cutting-edge treatment for all our clients. Gum disease does not have to be the end of your smile, we can find you the treatment that you need to keep your teeth. Safe, transparent, and always client focussed, GlobMed provides access to the very best private healthcare. Let us use our knowledge, resources, and networks to help you find exceptional quality dental solutions at a reasonable price.

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