Gum care is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. Neglected gums can become diseased, and that can lead to plaque build-up, gingivitis, and even loose teeth.
At Clinique dentaire Charles Trottier, we can provide appropriate treatments to help you combat gum disease. We also recommend that you examine your gums regularly to avoid major problems.
Gum disease is one of the most common dental problems adults face, but it can begin at just about any age. It often develops slowly and without causing any pain. Sometimes you may not notice any signs until the disease is serious and you are at risk of losing teeth. The good news is that gum disease can:
- Almost always be prevented
- Be treated as soon as it starts
- Be reversed (if detected early)
Healthy gums and bone are what hold teeth in place. The place where gums are attached to the teeth—just below the edge of the gums—is called the point of attachment. Gum disease, or infection, attacks this point of attachment.
Infection can begin when plaque, a sticky, white substance that contains bacteria (germs), builds up on your teeth and gums. Plaque forms every day and if it is not removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus).
Tartar can lead to an infection at the point of attachment. In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. Gums may be pink or red and bleed a little when you brush, but otherwise you may not notice anything.
As gingivitis progresses, tiny pockets of infection develop at the point of attachment. You may notice puffy gums, traces of blood on your toothbrush, or a change in the colour of your gums. Even with these symptoms, you still might not experience any pain in your mouth.
Over time, the infection breaks down the tissue that holds your teeth in place. This is called attachment loss, or tooth loosening. By then, you may notice swelling, bleeding, and colour changes in your gums.
Along with attachment loss, gum disease also causes the bone that holds your teeth in place to break down. If gum disease is not treated, teeth become loose and may fall out.
How can you avoid gum disease?
The best way to deal with gum disease is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. To protect your oral health, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and see your dentist regularly for oral examinations.
In its early stages, gum disease is very hard to see, and you may not know that you have a problem. That is why your dentist looks for signs of gum disease every time you have a dental exam. Your dentist may also:
- use a dental tool called a periodontal probe to measure the distance between the visible edge of the gum and the attachment point. Healthy gums attach to teeth just below the edge of the gum. If your gums attach to your teeth below this point, it is a sign of gum disease;
- take x-rays to see how much bone is around your teeth. If you have gum disease, getting rid of plaque and tartar gives your gums a chance to get better.
The best treatment
That’s why in the early stages of gum disease, the best treatment is:
- Having built-up tartar removed by your dentist or dental hygienist
- Brushing twice a day to remove plaque
- Flossing once a day to remove plaque
Consultation with a periodontist
When gum disease is more serious, your dentist may refer you to a dental specialist called a periodontist. A periodontist has at least three extra years of university training in treating gum disease and in restoring (or regenerating) bone and gum tissue that have been lost as a result of gum disease.
A periodontist also treats serious forms of gum disease that do not get better with normal dental care. When serious gum disease is detected, brushing and flossing become even more important.
Checking your gums
Recognize the symptoms of gum disease
Check your gums on a regular basis for these signs of gum disease:
- A change in the colour of your gums
- Gums that are red around your teeth
- Gums that bleed every time you brush or floss
- Persistent bad breath
- A metallic taste in your mouth
- Shiny, puffy or sore gums
- Teeth that are sensitive for no apparent reason
Consequences of gum disease
If gum disease is not treated, your gums may constantly be sore, red and puffy, you may get a painful infection (called an abscess) between your teeth and gums, and you may lose your teeth.
Visit your dentist regularly
These are all good reasons to see your dentist right away. Gum disease is one of the main reasons why adults lose their teeth. But the good news is that gum disease can be prevented in most cases or even reversed in its early stages. So visit your dentist regularly to make sure your gums stay healthy.