Periodontitis And The Threat To Your Teeth
If gum disease is not managed effectively, you might find yourself looking at the tooth replacement options at our Chelmsford dental clinic.
The good news is that, partially due to exposure on TV adverts, there is now a much greater awareness of the problems that gum disease can cause. Although these adverts often emphasise the symptom of bleeding gums, this isn’t the only one and just because your gums don’t bleed when you brush your teeth, it doesn’t mean that you are not at risk.
Like many health issues, both oral and general, gum disease goes through various stages. Initially is not overly serious and treatable, although unpleasant symptoms can still occur at this stage. The reality is that most of us will probably have mild gum disease at some point in our lives. For example, poor quality brushing and general lack of energy when we are ill can mean that our teeth and gums get neglected for a while. In most cases though, your gum health will be restored when you revert back to your usual oral health regime.
However, long term neglect of the gums can have serious implications for patients of Blue Sky Dental and we will now take a look at some of these below.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Firstly, let us take a look at the two main stages of gum disease. The earlier stage is known as gingivitis and while it can cause unpleasant symptoms such as bleeding gums, bad breath and soreness, this stage affects only the soft tissue of the gums. In some cases, this can be reversed simply by improving the way that we brush our teeth and with the addition of the use of dental floss. Professional intervention in the form of a scale and polish, carried out by the hygienist is also an important way of preventing and managing gum disease and we will look at that a little later on.
The later stages of gum disease present much more serious issues. This stage is known as periodontitis and affects not only the soft tissue but also the jawbone. As it reaches beneath the gum line and around the root of the tooth, it also starts to damage the bone that supports the tooth. As it gradually destroys this bone, the tooth becomes loose and tooth loss becomes a real possibility. At this stage, an invasive dental procedure known as a ‘deep clean’ or ‘root planing’ may be necessary to try to save the tooth. This doesn’t always work though and preventing any problems from reaching this far is a much better idea.
If you currently have dental implants placed, or are considering this, it is worth highlighting the fact that periodontitis can have the same effect and can threaten the survival of your implant. A similar and related problem called peri-implantitis can also have this effect. Peri-implantitis can cause inflammation of both the soft and harder tissues that surround a dental implant and is usually caused by the same things as periodontitis. Implant patients may think that once an implant is placed it is safe from decay and other problems. While it is true that the implant won’t decay, it is still vulnerable to periodontal problems and care needs to be taken to keep the implant and surrounding areas healthy.
General health implications
While periodontal problems are largely associated with oral health, there is ongoing research into its implications for our general health. There is increasing evidence that poor gum health can have an impact on our general health and especially in areas such as heart disease, respiratory issues and Alzheimer’s disease amongst others. It seems that keeping our gums healthy can have a positive impact on our general health too.
When it comes to battling the problem of gum disease, prevention is the best method by far. In addition to that, it is actually very straightforward and often only takes a little readjusting of your current daily routine. Below, we look at some ‘top tips’ for improving your gum health and helping to prevent tooth loss.
Brushing – Presumably you already brush your teeth twice a day, but even so, there are a few simple things that you can do to make this more effective. Firstly, stop using that worn out toothbrush and get a new one. Worn bristles are ineffective at removing bacteria and you should change your brush or brush head every three months. Don’t just ‘flat brush’ your teeth either and make sure to angle the bristles so that they reach into the gum line, removing trapped food and bacteria from there.
Flossing – You may well be one of the 80% who don’t use dental floss. If you are, it is time to join the 20%. Flossing is an excellent way to remove trapped food and bacteria and really isn’t that hard to do once you have learned how to do it. Watch instructional videos or ask our hygienist to demonstrate how to do it. Just adding this simple thing to your regimen will help you to significantly reduce the risk of gum disease.
See the hygienist – However well we brush and floss, there will always be areas where bacterial growth occurs. This results in a ‘crust’ known as tartar or calculus. This is too solid to be removed with home brushing and requires the intervention of our Chelmsford dental hygienist. They will perform a ‘scale and polish’, a non-invasive three stage cleaning process which will remove this tartar from your teeth and gum line and leave you with healthy gums and a clean feeling around the teeth and gums.
In addition to improving how you look after your teeth at home, we strongly recommend that you see our hygienist regularly – they can help to keep your gum health firmly on track. To make an appointment, please call Blue Sky Dental today on 01245 211070.