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  • Writer's pictureDavid O'Malley

Gum disease the ugly truth.

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (gingivitis) often occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. Gum disease is a common condition that results in the gums being red, swollen, and sometimes infected. In Australia, nine out of every ten people have some level of gum inflammation, and almost a quarter have moderate to severe bone loss (periodontitis) and this rises to over 50% in the over 55-year-olds.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontal diseases are infections that affect the body structures around the teeth, these include your gums, bone, and the periodontal ligament (what holds your tooth in). Periodontal disease is primarily caused by the build-up of various bacteria in dental plaque, however, it is also linked to genetics, smoking, medications, stress, and poor nutrition.

Periodontitis is the most advanced form of gum disease. The inner layer of the gum pulls away from the tooth and at the same time the bone shrinks and tries to move away from the infection, this causes gum pockets to form. These pockets make the collection of debris and more bacteria easier to occur and lead to greater infection. As these pockets get deeper it becomes harder to remove the debris with regular tooth-brushing and cleaning. Toxins in the bacteria found in plaque, therefore they begin to break down the bone and surrounding connective tissues, which can lead to permanent loss of bone and teeth.

What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease where bacteria in plaque builds up and causes gums to become swollen and inflamed. They may also bleed during tooth brushing and flossing. At this stage, there is no permanent damage and we can easily treat the infection. However, if left untreated, cases may lead to Periodontitis. Periodontitis is can lead to permanent damage.

Are there any early warning signs of gum disease (gingivitis)?

Gum disease can often go unnoticed as it is painless until the teeth become loose. Symptoms of gum disease can include bleeding gums, gum recession, and tooth sensitivity. Gums can appear red and swollen; whereas others may notice bad breath and even a bad taste in the mouth.

Will gum disease go away by itself?

In the early stages of gum disease, you can often improve the symptoms with regular brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. If you are suffering from a more severe case of gum disease such as periodontitis, you will definitely need to see us for in-office treatment.

What will happen if it is left untreated?

If gum disease is left untreated, the chances are that it could lead to more complicated dental problems further down the line, including teeth movement to permanent tooth loss. Gum disease has also been shown to a role to play in serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and pancreatic cancer. So treatment will help with your overall health.

Does mouthwash help gum disease?

Antibacterial mouthwash can ease mild cases of gum disease. Many people use mouthwash to freshen their breath and help fight bacteria. Above all, it is important to note that using mouthwash alone can’t prevent gingivitis. Also, most over-the-counter mouthwashes will have little effect on periodontitis.

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