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Recognising, treating, and managing gum disease

We understand why most people associate dentists with teeth. Your teeth are both the most visible and most hard-working ‘features’ of your mouth, and when you have an issue with a tooth it’s generally quite noticeable (and often painful).  

However, because we have a much broader view of oral health, we’re just as focused on the other parts of your mouth, notably your gums.

It’s very important that we regularly inspect your gums because if they aren’t as healthy as they could be your overall health is likely to be affected.

Both gingivitis (mild gum disease) and periodontitis (more serious gum disease) have been shown to raise your risk of things like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, and cancer.

If you do happen to have any signs of gum disease, let us identify the issue and start treatment before it gets any worse.

Middleborough Dental Care has the very latest equipment to provide the most effective and least uncomfortable deep cleaning possible, and our patients regularly comment on how gentle Dr Ling and Sam are when treating their gums.  

The signs of gum disease

If you’ve noticed a bit of blood in your sink when you brush your teeth, that might be a warning sign that you have gum disease. You might also have some tenderness leading to discomfort when chewing.

Any sort of inflammation or redness of the gums could be a sign of gingivitis – the ‘milder’ form of gum disease that affects the gums only – while more obvious bleeding when brushing or flossing might mean that it’s already progressed to periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a more severe infection that tends to impact below the gumline and even into the bone.

Apart from redness and inflammation and a little bleeding, if you notice that your teeth look more prominent that might be because your gums are shrinking or receding as a result of disease.

Tooth sensitivity often goes hand in hand with shrinking gums, because if the part of the tooth that is usually below the gumline is exposed, it will be much more sensitive to the cold, especially.

Another symptom of more significant gum disease is bad breath, as the bacteria in your mouth release toxins that can irritate the gums and teeth and have a foul smell.

The most common causes of gum disease

There are many things that can, either directly or indirectly, contribute to gum disease. Even stress is a factor because it impairs the body’s immune response.

If you have a combination of factors that can contribute to gum disease, you will need to be more careful, more observant, and more proactive in your preventative methods.

Both dental plaque and tartar are filled with harmful bacteria, and if they aren’t removed from teeth, they will begin to irritate the gums and cause gingivitis.

A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water and vitamin C is a recipe for gum issues.

Crooked teeth, which tend to be harder to keep clean, create more areas for plaque and calculus to accumulate.

An increase in hormones causes the blood vessels in the gums to be more susceptible to bacterial and chemical attack, therefore we can see a rise in gingivitis around puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.  

Among its many other impacts on your body, smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This makes you far more vulnerable to infections like gum disease.

Not unlike tobacco, regular or excessive alcohol consumption has many potentially detrimental effects on your physical health, including a measurable negative impact on oral defence mechanisms.

Some medications might have side effects that reduce saliva production and flow, which can leave you with a dry mouth, encouraging bacteria to spread more readily.

How we treat gum disease

As prevention is always better than cure, we recommend a regular ‘scale and clean’.

At Middleborough Dental Care, we remove plaque with both ultrasonic and hand scaling – after applying topical anaesthetic gel to ease any sensitivity that may occur.

If we find that you have deep gum pockets (5 millimetres or more) we provide deep cleaning focused on the affected areas.

While regular cleaning is usually done above the gumline, deep cleaning goes under the gumline.

Deep cleaning is the best way to reverse the negative effects of periodontal disease which, if left untreated, will see the pockets in your gums continue to grow, increasing your risk of bone loss.

If you haven’t been checked for gum disease in the past six to 12 months, make an appointment to see us sooner rather than later.