What Is Gum Disease?

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is the most common cause for tooth loss in adults, more so than tooth decay, so it is important to take care of your gums. Most adults have some degree of gum disease. Usually it progresses slowly and can be stopped from getting worse. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing gum problems.  At an early stage, gum disease is known as gingivitis and is reversible.  If it progresses into an advanced form of gum disease this is known as periodontitis, which is irreversible.  Gum disease is often known as a “silent disease” as many sufferers are unaware that they are affected by the condition.

You may often notice a build up of a sticky, yellow paste on the teeth.  This is known as plaque and is a film of bacteria which coats the teeth and gums every day.  These deposits can be removed by your own daily cleaning.  We have many bacteria in the mouth, many of which are harmless, but in the presence of plaque, harmful bacteria multiply at a rapid rate.  If the deposits remain on the surfaces of the teeth and gums it can harden and become calculus which can’t be removed by your own cleaning.  If this is present for a long period of time, the risk of more advanced gum disease is increased.

Signs of gum disease:

As mentioned, often there are no obvious signs of gum disease, however if you experience any of the following they may be indications that you have gum disease:

1)  Your gums bleed easily

2) The gums are swollen, red or tender

3) You have pus or fluid coming out from the gums

4) You have a problem with bad breath

5) Any of your teeth feel loose or have moved

6) Your teeth don’t seem to fit together properly when you bite

Gum disease and general health:

Research has long found that gum disease is associated with several other diseases.  More recent research is showing stronger links with inflammation in the mouth impacting other diseases.  This means good management of gum disease may improve the extent of other conditions.  Some of the conditions where links have been found with gum disease are:

– Diabetes

– Heart Disease

– Osteoporosis

– Cancer

– Respiratory disease

– Foetal development

In our next post we will discuss ways in which to help prevent gum disease