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Gum Disease: Frequently Asked Questions

Most people suffer from some form of gum disease.

What is gum disease?
Gum disease describes inflammation or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.

What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen, showing that the area is inflamed. Often this swollen gum bleeds when it is brushed during cleaning.

What is periodontal disease?
Long-standing gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease. There are a number of forms of periodontal disease and they all affect the supporting structures of the teeth. As the disease progresses, the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making loose teeth. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.

Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?
Probably. Most of the population suffers from some form of gum disease, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, the disease progresses very slowly in most people and can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.

What is the cause of gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria, which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been identified as the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing teeth and flossing.

What happens if gum disease is not treated?
Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly, on the whole. However, you may occasionally experience a burst of activity by the bacteria, which makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long period of time, treatment can become more difficult.

How do I know if I have gum disease?
The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Gums may also bleed when eating, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.

What do I do if I think I have gum disease?
The first thing to do is visit your dentist for a thorough checkup of your teeth and gums. The dentist can measure the 'cuff' of gum around each tooth to see if there is any evidence that periodontal disease has started. X-rays may also be needed to see the amount of bone that has been lost. This assessment is very important, so the correct dental treatments can be prescribed for you.

What treatment may be needed?
Your dentist will usually teeth cleaning treatment. You'll also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or dental hygienist.

Once I have had periodontal disease, can I get it again?
The periodontal diseases are never cured, but as long as you keep up the home care you have been taught, any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether. However, you must make sure you remove plaque every day, and return for regular check-ups by the dentist and hygienist.

If you're interested in gum disease treatment, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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