gum disease

Screening for gum disease forms an integral part of your routine examination.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning.

What is periodontal disease?

Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.

What is the cause of gum disease?

All gum diseases are caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing.

What happens if gum disease is not treated?

Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole so that you do not notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses, and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more difficult.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.

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What can I do to help?

Your role in the management and control of the disease is crucial. We will show you techniques aimed at cleaning your teeth to a very high standard with the aim being that you remove the biofilm that the body reacts to. If you are a smoker, then stopping or reducing smoking will help. Smoking is the number one modifier of periodontal disease making the disease process more damaging and less responsive to treatment. You are at least 4 times more likely to have gum disease if you are a smoker. Should you wish to quit smoking, the best people to speak to are your GP and medical practice nurses. We are also happy to offer advice. A healthy balanced diet is also important in the prevention and stabilisation of periodontal disease.

What sort of treatment will I need?

Most periodontal disease can be treated effectively with thorough removal of the biofilm and deposits of calculus (calcified biofilm) that stick to the teeth. This treatment is carried out by the hygienist who is specially trained in these techniques. However this treatment is only successful if an optimal level of oral hygiene is achieved at home so emphasis will be placed on this aspect of your treatment, especially in the early stages. Occasionally, in more severe cases, further treatment may be required in the form of drug therapy or surgery and you would probably be referred to a Specialist in Periodontics if this were the case.