What Is Gingivitis?
Gum disease is one of the most common dental problems afflicting half of all Australian adults currently. But for most people, signs of gum disease like inflamed or bleeding gums have become so commonplace that it doesn’t bother them anymore – until the disease is already there.
When bacteria thrives around your teeth and plaque and tartar are left untreated especially around the gum line, red swollen and bleeding gums will be the first signs of what is commonly known as Gingivitis.
At this stage of the disease, Gingivitis is usually painless and sometimes, hardly noticed by you. Once detected, Gingivitis can usually be treated immediately with normal, daily flossing and brushing of your teeth, and periodic cleaning by your dentist.
Importance of Gum Treatment
Healthy gums play a vital role in protecting your teeth from infection, and increasing the chances that you’ll keep your teeth for life. In addition, many studies suggest that healthy gums may lower your risk of suffering serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
When your gums are healthy, they form a seal around your teeth that prevents harmful bacteria from attacking the fibres and bones that hold your teeth in place. However, if you have gum disease (or, if we use the proper name, periodontal disease) your gums can become inflamed and swollen, and bleed easily – such as when you brush them.
If the early stages of gum disease aren’t treated, deep pockets can form between the tooth and the gums, which will eventually lead to the tooth becoming loosened due to the damage being caused to the connective tissue and bone. Your gums can recede and your teeth may either fall out or require extraction.
Additionally, when your gums are infected, it’s easier for bacteria in your mouth to enter the bloodstream. Once the bacteria reaches your arteries, it can irritate them in the same way it irritates your gums, possibly hardening the arteries, affecting blood flow or triggering the formation of clots. In turn this could lead to a heart attack or even a stroke.Clearly, maintaining the health of your gums is vitally important. By doing so you can:
Give your teeth the best environment in which to thrive;
Ensure that your mouth looks and feels healthy; and,
Reduce the whole-body impacts of having harmful bacteria entering your blood stream.
What are the risk factors associated with gum disease?
While gum disease usually begins with a failure to maintain good oral hygiene there are some other factors that can affect the health of your gums. These include:
Smoking: If you need another reason to quit smoking, try gum disease. Not only has smoking been shown to be one of most significant factors in gum disease, it can also lower the chances of successful treatment.
Tooth grinding : If you grind your teeth, it can put extra stress and force on your teeth’s supporting tissues, which may increase the speed by which they are weakened by gum disease.
How is gum disease treated?
When you visit your Yokine Smiles Dental, the first thing we will do is determine how far your gum disease has progressed. This will include measuring the depth of any pockets between the gums and teeth; checking to see whether teeth are loose or moving; and perhaps taking an X-ray to check that the bone area surrounding each tooth is sound.
If you simply have early stage gingivitis, your Holistic dentist or dental hygienist will:
- Remove the plaque build-up using special dental instruments.
- Conduct ‘scaling’ – which means cleaning the tooth surface from above the gum line and in any shallow pockets that may have formed between the tooth and the gum, carefully and thoroughly removing all plaque and tartar.
Depending on how much scaling needs to be done, you may be given a local anaesthetic. After the treatment, your gums may feel sore for a few days and your teeth may be more sensitive for a period of time.
If you have more advanced gum disease, other treatment may be required such as:
- Root planing – This is a reasonably time consuming process that’s designed to remove toxins and bacteria from the root surfaces of the tooth. In most cases you’ll be given a local anaesthetic for this procedure. You may need to make several visits to your Holistic Dental practitioner, with different areas of the mouth being cleaned each time.
- Filling replacement – If a filling is contributing to the gum disease, this may need to be reshaped or replaced.
- Surgery – If inflammation and deep pockets remain after scaling and planning, you may require ‘flap’ surgery, which involves lifting back the gums to remove the tartar. If you’ve lost gum or bone tissue due to periodontists, your Holistic Dental practitioner may suggest a bone or tissue graft.
Once your gum disease has been treated, your Holistic Dentist or dental hygienist will spend time showing you how to improve your oral hygiene, focusing specially on the best ways to remove plaque through better brushing and cleaning between your teeth.
Best Ways to Keep your Gums Healthy?
At Holistic Dental, we understand that your mouth is the pathway to the rest of your body. Maintaining good oral health isn’t simply important for your teeth and mouth, it’s also vital to your overall well-being.
Healthy gums require a healthy mouth. To achieve this, you should do the following:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss regularly.
- Rinse your mouth with water or a mouth wash after every meal. (This can reduce bacteria by up to 30%.)
- Eat a well-balanced diet including fibre-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of sugar foods you eat, and opt for snacks and drinks that are sugar free. As most packaged fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar, milk or water are better drink alternatives for children.
- Quit smoking, if you’re a smoker.
- Check your mouth regularly for any early signs of gum disease.
- Visit your local Yokine Smiles Dental at least twice a year for a check-up and through clean.