Find out if you are susceptible to gum disease and practical to-do’s to reduce your chances.
You would think that there is a level playing field in terms of whether or not you suffer gum disease. However, there many factors which can put you in a higher-risk category of suffering this potentially damaging disease.
GUM DISEASE, GINGIVITIS, PERIODONTITIS – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Gingivitis and periodontitis refer to progressive stages of gum disease.
Gingivitis comes from the Latin word, gingiva, which means gum, so this condition simply means inflammation of the gums. This inflammation, which includes redness, soreness and sometimes bleeding is the first stage of gum disease and is the easiest to treat and stop in its tracks.
If you think this is you, our highly experienced dentists at the Parramatta clinic can help.
Gingivitis is occurs when bacteria build up on and around teeth, forming plaque. The bacteria produce toxins which irritate the gums and cause inflammation.
If this is left untreated, gingivitis can progress into chronic periodontitis which is harder to treat and can cause loose teeth and eventually teeth falling out.
If that wasn’t bad enough, people can also suffer acute ulcerative gingivitis and periacipal periodontitis. In this painful condition, ulcers develop on the gums between teeth. Gums can bleed even from the tiniest amount of pressure. Antibiotics are often used to treat the infection.
It has been nicknamed ‘trench mouth’, after World War I soldiers who used to suffer ulcerative gingivitis because they were unable to look after their teeth. Nowadays, teenagers are the most likely to suffer this condition.
Periacipal perionditis occurs where a cavity has been left untreated and bacteria enter tooth pulp, which is in the middle of the tooth, and spread to the root tip. This sometimes causes an abscess to develop.
These are all very good and painful reasons not to neglect your teeth.
WHO IS MORE AT RISK?
You are more likely to suffer gum disease if:
- YOU ARE MALE AND OVER 40: According to the US National Institutes for Health, older males have a higher chance of suffering gum disease and it is more likely to progress to periodontitis.
- YOU HAVE DIABETES: Diabetes causes changes in blood vessel thickness in the gums and reduces your resistance to infection.
- YOU ARE STRESSED: Stress reduces saliva flow. Our saliva has antibodies which help keep down levels of bacteria.
- YOU ARE A TEENAGE GIRL OR PREGNANT WOMAN: A surge in sex hormones in puberty and pregnancy increases the production of inflammatory chemicals. It also weakens gum tissue and changes the balance of bacteria in our mouths.
- YOU ARE MENOPAUSAL: Research shows that the hormonal drop experienced in menopause increases your risk of gum disease. This is thought be due to reduced saliva production, increases in inflammatory chemicals and lower bone mineral density.
- YOU HAVE CANCER, AIDS OR OTHER IMMUNE-COMPROMISING DISEASE: Cancer treatments in themselves will also increase your likelihood.
- YOU ARE A SMOKER: Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease, partly because bacteria tends to adhere to teeth more and partly because smokers have lower levels of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C.
- YOU ARE ON CERTAIN MEDICATIONS: Dry mouth is one of the side effects of some medications, including antidepressants, anxiolytics, antihistamines, and diuretics.
THE GOOD NEWS
Fortunately, basic oral hygiene practices will go a long way in preventing gum disease, even if you are susceptible. However, gum disease usually also requires professional treatment and cleaning.
Book an appointment to see one of the dentists at the dental clinic Parramatta for regular checks and cleaning.
5 COMMON SIGNS OF GUM DISEASE
- Bleeding gums (your gums shouldn’t bleed when you brush or floss)
- Inflammation characterised by sore, red, swollen gums
- Loose teeth or teeth already fallen out
- Bad breath
- Receding gums