We talk a lot about healthy teeth but equally important is the state of our gums. Firstly we need to understand what our gums are and their function.
Gums are part of the soft tissue lining of the mouth. They surround the teeth and provide a seal protecting our teeth and keeping them in place securely. Unlike the soft tissue linings of the lips and cheeks, most of the gums are tightly bound to the underlying bone which helps resist the friction of food passing over them. Healthy gums create an effective barrier to the deeper tissue of our mouths, they are usually coral pink in light skinned people, but may be naturally darker with melanin pigmentation.
Gums like the rest of our bodies can be prone to infection and bad health. This is usually known as Gum Disease. Gum Disease is an inflammation of the gums that can affect the bone that surrounds your teeth breaking that all important seal and protection to your teeth.
The Stages of Gum Disease
- If you notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing you may be suffering from the first stage of Gum Disease, this is called Gingivitis. At this early stage of the disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
- The second stage is called Periodontitis, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. Your gums may start to trap food and plaque as your gum forms ‘pockets’ between the gum and the tooth. At this stage dental treatment is required together with a dental plan to prevent further damage.
- The final stage is called Advanced Periodontitis. At this stage teeth become loosened or shift and they may need to be removed. Dental treatment at this point is the only option.
Some of the common signs to look out for include,
- Gums that change in colour from normal and are puffy or swollen
- Bleeding during brushing or flossing
- Receded gums that make your teeth look longer than usual
- Bad breath
Hopefully after being aware of the signs of Gum Disease we can stop it at the first stage and prevent it getting any worse.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
The early stages of gum disease can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. Good oral health will help keep plaque from building up.
A professional cleaning by one of our team is the only way to remove plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. We will clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gumline. If your condition is more severe, a root planing procedure may be performed. Root planing helps to smooth irregularities on the roots of the teeth making it more difficult for plaque to deposit there.
And What’s the Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease?
- Brushing. Brushing twice a day for about two minutes and cleaning all round the teeth. We recommend using a toothpaste that uses fluoride, a natural mineral that helps protect against tooth decay.
- Flossing. Always floss your teeth before brushing. If you don’t like using floss wire then use interdental brushes which are easier to use. They come in various sizes to suit the gaps in between your teeth. Not sure which size is best for you, just ask the hygienist next time you’re here.
- Not Smoking. Smoking is a big risk factor for gum disease.
- Regular checkups and visit to the hygienist, we recommend a visit at least twice a year for both, to prevent build up.
If you are currently suffering any of the signs mentioned above or worried about your gums or the general health of your mouth why not book an appointment with our hygienist!