Gum disease is not just a minor inconvenience. If it is left untreated, the consequences can be quite serious, with the loss of teeth and even bone or soft tissue among the most devastating results. It is vitally important that you learn to recognise the early signs of gum disease.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is essentially an inflammatory condition which affects the gums and surrounding tissues and is one of the issues that the periodontal specialists at Holly House Dental are called upon to treat. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and one of the first signs of this is when you notice that your gums appear swollen and red. You may also notice spots of blood appear when you brush or floss your teeth. These initial symptoms are largely painless and can appear only very gradually so you can be totally unaware of gum disease creeping up on you. Your gums will gradually start to feel sore. If this early stage is ignored more serious symptoms could develop, and these include:

  • Bad breath – also known as halitosis
  • An unpleasant, sometimes metallic taste in the mouth
  • Your teeth may start to loosen so that eating certain foods becomes difficult and even painful
  • Abscesses can develop under the teeth or in the gum itself or you could suffer recurrent infections

By the time it has progressed to this stage it is known as periodontitis and can start to affect the gum tissue to such an extent that your teeth can loosen, bone in the jaw can recede and gaps can start to appear between the teeth and the gum. These gaps could then become infected as food particles can become lodged there.

What Causes Gum Disease?

It is quite often the result of lax or careless dental hygiene. If you do not brush and floss your teeth every day, twice a day, then plaque builds up on the teeth. This is a sticky substance which attracts bacteria, some of which reacts with sugars in food and drink. Plaque is easily removed with regular brushing but if neglected it could turn into tartar. If you’re unsure of whether you have plaque deposits make an appointment to see your dentist who will be only too happy to offer advice and treatment if necessary. In fact, regular check-ups with your dentist help to keep your mouth as healthy as possible and so eliminate the chances of developing gum disease.

Gum disease can also be caused by other factors including smoking, diabetes and stress and can even be a hereditary condition. This is all the more reason to keep regular dental check-up appointments.

Preventing Gum Disease

For most people, it is very easy to stop gum disease from happening in the first place and certainly before it becomes serious enough to need periodontal treatment. The first and most important thing you can do to help yourself is to maintain a good oral hygiene daily routine. Brush your teeth twice every day – once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Floss regularly to remove any food particles that brushing has missed. Interdental brushes are excellent for cleaning in between the teeth at the gumline; your dentist or dental hygienist can advise you on which interdental brushes to get and how to use them properly.

One of the best ways to avoid gum disease is through regular check-up appointments with your dentist when you can be sure of a thorough examination of your mouth and teeth, and, if necessary, a professional clean.