Gum disease and other problems
Bleeding gums, gingivitis, and bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth are early signs of problems in your gums – they are telling you to act now!If left untreated they may lead to loosening of the teeth.
What is periodontitis?
As the gum support loosens around the teeth, eventually – if it’s not addressed – it can lead to advanced gum disease or periodontitis, which is a major cause of tooth loss.
It’s not always a one-way road, but the loss of the bone that supports the teeth means that the teeth usually get more and more loose and can eventually fall out.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is the result of bacteria activity on or under the gum.
While the presence of this bacteria is required for it happen, risk factors like smoking and diabetes are just as prevalent as ever and can play a major part. Stress may play a role as well.
Can my teeth fall out?
Yes. It’s not fun having advanced gum disease. It can be quite painful, make it difficult to chew, and can sometimes contribute to infections.
The worst possible outcome is for the teeth to fall out. The has a major functional impact in terms of the ability to speak and eat. It can also have a major impact from aesthetic point of view.
How do I look out for gum disease?
If you notice these early signs, usually when you’re brushing your teeth, see your dentist for preventive cleaning:
- Inflammation of the gum – it may be a bit swollen, red or tender
- Bleeding gums – it’s bleeding because there’s plaque bacteria present
- Teeth covered with plaque
- Bad breath
If gingivitis is left untreated, look out for these red flags:
- Loose teeth
- Pain or tenderness when chewing
- Foul breath (even after brushing) or off taste in the mouth
- Pus around the gum and teeth
- Receding gum or gum that moves away from the teeth
- Smile looking ‘long in the tooth’
I have bleeding gums. Won’t brushing my teeth make it worse?
Most people get a bit scared when they see this and they think,I’m brushing too hard so I should stop brushing or flossing.
Don’t get put off when you see a bit of blood when you brush. It’s actually an indicator gum disease is starting and you need to brush and floss more to remove the bacteria. It may also indicate that tartar has built up under the gum and it is time to see a dentist to get this off your teeth.
By the time it gets worse, you’ll really know about it. That’s when you can get quite bad breath and you might notice some looseness in your teeth. They won’t feel the same when you bite into things and can be tender. There might even be pus around the gum. It’s not very nice!
What happens if I do nothing?
If left untreated then gum disease can become advanced periodontal disease. Once it becomes advanced you’re staring down the barrel of losing teeth and needing to think about restoring function with dentures and dental implants. If you experience loss of bone, it can limit your suitability to have dental implants – it depends on how much bone is lost.
Is it the same type of bacteria that causes tooth decay?
No, and this gets complex.
For gingivitis and gum disease to happen, you need an ecosystem of bacteria and the right conditions for it to survive. That’s why prevention comes back to cleaning your teeth.
Just think about an empty block of land. First, weeds will start to grow. Then some grass and, if you do nothing, some large plants. Once there are plants, then you might get insects. Then rats.
So, you know how it all started with grass, then an ecosystem built up?
It’s the same thing with gum disease – you need bacteria to change the condition under the gum, which allows the second bacteria to grow. Then they change the condition to allow the bad boys to come in! It can take only several months for this to happen and the ecosystem will be fully developed.
This is why, if you have advanced gum disease, you need to come in to the dentist every three to four months for a hygiene clean instead of the usual six month check-up.
My gum is receding. Will it come back?
Gum recession is the outside loss of gum – it’s something you’ll never get back.
Sometimes the foundation around the tooth can get weaker without the ‘long in the tooth’ appearance. If so you could have what’s called pocketing. That’s where the gum has become weak and detached from the root of the tooth. The bone is easing away from the gum and isn’t attached anymore.
If you have pocketing, we take measurements of your teeth during every check-up to make sure those measurements are consistent with the normal range. Usually, your teeth shouldn’t have more than a 2mm-3mm pocket.
Worried about your gum problems?
It’s important to maintain check-ups every six months, as this is when we can pick up the early signs of gum disease. If you haven’t been for a while, call us at Shepherds Hill Dental Centre now on 08 8278 6858 or book an appointment online