Screening for gum disease forms an integral part of your routine examination.
Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. It is caused by bacteria in plaque, which forms in a thin film on your teeth. If plaque is not removed through daily brushing, it can build up leading to your gums and teeth becoming infected. This can lead to tooth loss.
There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and 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 happens if gum disease is not treated?
Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole so that you do 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 your toothbrush or in the water when you rinse your teeth. Also, your breath may become unpleasant.
- Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
- Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth, creating a pocket
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
- Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
You can remove hardened plaque (tartar) by having a professional clean by your dentist or hygienist. We will clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gum line.