Plaque is bad news for our teeth. This sticky film constantly forms on them, which is caused by the interaction of bacteria in our mouths and sugars in the food that we eat. Brushing our teeth helps to remove plaque, but if your dental hygiene routine isn’t up to scratch and any plaque remains, the bacteria contained within it can spread onto the nearby gum tissue, causing irritation and inflammation. This is gum disease.
In the early stages, gum disease is often overlooked. This is because the symptoms, which include bleeding, red and swollen gums are mild and easily ignored. However, gum disease is a progressive condition and if it isn’t treated fairly on, it can affect the function and appearance of your teeth. Research has also found there is a definitive link between poor oral hygiene, gum disease and a number of potentially serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Dementia, liver and kidney problems and even some types of cancer.
The good news is that if you catch the signs of gum disease early, it can be reversed fairly easily. Here is what you need to know about the treatment for gum disease.
Treating gum disease at home
If you have noticed that your gums look red and inflamed, and if they are bleeding when you brush your teeth, you need to start taking steps to get your gum disease under control. Fortunately, there are a few simple changes that you can make to do this. They include:
– Improve your brushing. You should be brushing your teeth for at least two minutes at least twice a day. After meals are ideal, and before bed is essential to remove any bacteria and food debris and stop them from interacting and producing plaque while you sleep.
– Using a toothpaste that contains enough fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps to protect against tooth decay and fights gum disease.
– Make time to floss. Many people overlook flossing, thinking that it is too time-consuming and too tricky. However, flossing is the best way to remove plaque from between the teeth and can be instrumental in keeping gum disease at bay.
– Quit smoking. Research has shown that people who smoke are significantly more likely to suffer from gum disease.
– Visit your dentist regularly. They can help you spot the signs of gum disease early and help you to get your oral health back on track.
Professional treatments for gum disease
If your gum disease has progressed beyond the earliest stages, you may hear it referred to as periodontal disease or periodontitis. One of the symptoms of periodontitis is receding gums. This is when the gum tissue begins to pull away from the base of the teeth, creating space between the tooth and gums. These spaces are called periodontal pockets. Unfortunately, they are ideal places for food debris and bacteria to become trapped, and since they are impossible to clean thoroughly with a toothbrush, they can lead to further dental issues developing.
Scaling and root planing
If you are suffering from moderate to severe gum disease you may be offered a procedure called scaling and root planing. This is a deep clean of your teeth that uses special instruments to remove plaque and tartar from the periodontal pockets. Next, your dentist will smooth the tooth root to help the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth, closing the pocket and preventing more debris and bacteria from becoming trapped. Scaling and root planing may take more than one visit and a local anesthetic is recommended. Some patients who are nervous about dental procedures may like to enquire about the possibility of sedation.
If your gums have receded significantly, you may need a procedure known as gum grafting. This process involves taking healthy tissue from another part of your mouth, usually the palate, and grafting it onto the pockets that have formed to close them and encourage new, healthy tissue to grow. This is important as, without sufficient gum structure, your affected teeth will have less support securing them in place. It can take a number of months for the grafts to heal, but the result is a restored gum line that also helps improve the cosmetic appearance of the teeth. Again, gum grafting usually requires local anesthetic, with some patients also opting for sedation.
If you are concerned about gum disease, our friendly and reassuring dental team would be happy to offer their advice and support. Contact us today to arrange an appointment.