Gum disease is a common problem and its symptoms are unpleasant, for example swollen and sore gums. When you brush your teeth you could be spitting out a little blood. Your breath might be less than fresh and you may suffer minor aches and stinging.
But thankfully gum disease, known to dentists as gingivitis or periodontal disease, is pretty easy to stave off… providing your oral hygiene is up to scratch.
Swollen, sore and infected gums are a very common complaint, affecting a little under 20 per cent of the world population. According to the NHS gum disease webpage, figures for the UK are higher, and oral hygienists agree that half our adult population will have at some time suffer from some form of gum disease. Good news for the kids, here: it’s a lot less common in children.
The severest cases of periodontitis, which affect between ten and 15 per cent of the UK population, cause the biggest problems (NHS stats 2014). The tissue which supports the teeth, and holds them in place in the mouth, can be damaged. Untreated, this can lead to the bone in your jaw becoming decayed. Small spaces might open up between the gum and teeth, and after a while your teeth might loosen and fall out.
Check your gums
The simplest and most effective way to guard against gum disease is to clean your teeth regularly. Gum disease is caused by the harmful bacteria found in the built-up deposits of plaque which stick to the teeth. So brush away – or risk the plaque irritating your gums, causing soreness and inflammation.
Whether you have dental insurance or not, you should visit your dentist if you find your gums are bleeding or sore while brushing. He or she can give your teeth a rigorous clean and scrape away any hardened plaque, or tartar, that has been building up.
More severe cases might require tougher treatment, possibly even going as far as to require surgery.
But in the vast majority of cases, your dentist will sort you out with a good clean. Expect to receive some advice on how to clean your teeth more thoroughly, too, to prevent that potentially harmful plaque from building up again in the future.
Those blessed with healthy teeth and gums might only have to visit the dentist every six months or so for a check-up. But if you have had gum disease problems in the past, or if you are going through a bit of a gum disease phase, you might need to visit your dentist more frequently – and he or she will be able to best advise on how to organise this.
Also, some people will be more at risk of developing gum disease than others. Smokers, for instance, or diabetics, might benefit from more frequent oral hygiene check-ups.
So, if you think you may have gum disease then don’t hesitate to book an appointment to see your dentist and get those problems sorted before it gets any worse.