is gum disease and how is it caused?
Gum disease is now the most common reason for tooth loss and can affect us
all. It is also generally preventable or controllable. 75% of people over 35
years of age have, or have experienced, gum disease previously.
Contributing factors of gums disease include: poor oral hygiene,
malocclusions (overlapping teeth creating food/plaque traps); overhanging
restorations (again creating traps); high sugar intake increases the amount and
rate of plaque growth; smoking and tobacco chewing reduces natural immunity
and can damage gum tissue; diabetes and some blood disorders(lowered resistance
to infection); prescription drug use (possible side effects - consult your
Doctor); and hormone fluctuation and pregnancy.
Gum disease is now being linked with heart disease/stroke and may cause
premature births. Gum disease is contagious therefore can be passed on to
others. It is also a major cause of bad breath, known as hallitosis.
Stages of gum disease:
There are several stages of gum disease, the first being gingivitis. If
plaque is left around the necks and between teeth, bacteria present cause
inflammation, bleeding and swelling. If left untreated, the condition develops
into periodontitis where the bacterial toxins attack the inflamed gums,
ligaments and bone structure supporting the teeth. At this stage, the process
may not be reversed, but can be controlled to prevent further damage and spread.
If left, the damaging process continues and this results in loss of teeth.
hygienist's role in your dental health:
Your hygienist is specifically trained to look after your gums. Healthy gums
help save teeth! She is trained to check the pockets where plaque and bacteria
collect. She will scale around the necks of the teeth, carry out deep scaling
where necessary (removing calculus that adheres to the roots of your teeth), and smooth any
overhangs or rough areas to help prevent further plaque sticking to these areas.
As the gum tissues heal, you may find that the profile of the gum against the
tooth may change. This is part of the healing process.
She will also give instruction on oral hygiene practices, tools, toothpastes, and
mouth rinses if necessary. She will also advise if she feels you require further
treatment with your dentist, or referral to a periodontist.
A visit with our hygienist is generally a pleasant, pain-free experience. If
she feels your teeth are particularly sensitive, or you require a local
anaesthetic, she will arrange this for you.
7 important points to remember:
- Good oral hygiene is essential
- Good diet of fruit and vegetables, low in sugar
- Stop smoking if possible
- Gum disease is contagious
- Check with your Doctor if you notice swollen or bleeding gums with
- Bad breath can point to gum disease
- Visit your Dentist and Hygienist regularly.
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