In our last post, we looked at the links between gum disease and a whole host of serious diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.
It’s clear that it pays not to have gum disease – at any time in your life. The potential effects of the disease on your teeth and general health are best avoided.
However, you could be at risk of gum disease, if you have poor oral hygiene and avoid regular dental check-ups.
What is gum disease and who does it affect?
There are two main types of gum disease – gingivitis and periodontitis.
Periodontitis usually affects adults over the age of 30. Though, teenagers can develop gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis if left untreated. Gingivitis can easily be treated with good oral hygiene and by your dentist with a professional scale and clean.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue around your teeth. It’s your body’s response to foreign bacteria living in plaque or tartar accumulations along your gum-line. These are the areas that you usually miss, when you brush and floss.
Over time, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, when constant gum inflammation causes your gums to pull away from your teeth.
By this time, you’ll have a complex bacterial community infecting your gum tissue, as the plaque starts to spread, between bone and tissue, towards your tooth root – breaking down your bone and connective tissue along the way.
Eventually, all the support structures for your tooth are destroyed. And good-bye tooth. Not to mention your body’s chronic immune and inflammatory response – and the impact of this on the rest of your body!
Fortunately, there are warning signs to look out for. Noticing any one of them is a serious enough reason to visit your dentist for a check-up.
The signs of gum disease include:
- Swollen gums
- Gum redness (as opposed to “healthy” pink)
- Soft, puffy gums
- Gum pain, soreness and tenderness
- Bleeding easily while brushing or flossing
- Loose or separating teeth
- Receding gums or gums pulling away from your teeth
- Mouth sores and pus excretion from between your teeth and gums
- Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when biting
- Denture fit changes