Periodontal problems are very reversible – but act soon!
Bacteria might be tiny, bu thtey can cause huge problems if you leave them to their own devices. Here’s how to fight back.
While figures are hard to come by, it's estimated that as many as eight out of ten of the general population has some degree of this most common ailment.
The reason why the figure is so high is that the range of symptoms or the degree of advancement can range from gum inflammation to much more serious layers of disease that eventually damage the soft tissue and bones supporting the teeth. And eventually, of course, your teeth will be lost.
As to which end of the spectrum you might be, a lot depends on the daily dental care regime that you practice. This will dictate whether the disease is stopped in its tracks, slowed down, or worsens.
The reason for this is that gum disease is caused by tiny bacteria. They combine with mucus and other tiny substances to form a colourless, sticky substance on your teeth. It’s called plaque, and we’re sure you’ve heard your dentist talk about it very often.
Brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly are the easiest and surest ways of attacking plaque. But if you don't remove it at regular intervals, it hardens into a substance called tartar, that’s completely immune to brushing. At that stage, only a visit to your dentist or dental hygienist can solve the problem.
And as with most ailments, the longer it goes untreated, the bigger the problem becomes. Initially, bacteria causes inflammation of the gums – this is known as gingivitis. You will know you have it as your gums are red and swollen, and can bleed quite easily.
Gingivitis is a fairly mild form of gum disease, and you can easily reverse it simply by becoming more serious about your brushing and flossing. Thankfully, at this level of advancement, you will not be losing any bone or supporting tissue.
If gingivitis is not treated, however, it can advance to a condition called periodontitis, which involves the gums pulling away from the teeth and crating little crevices that easily become infected. It can also lead to a very painful periodontal abscess.
In response to this, the body’s immune system looks to fight the bacteria. Bacterial toxins and our natural response to physical infection break down the bone and the tissue that supports your teeth, eventually leading to loosening and removal of the teeth.
We’ve mentioned already that gum disease is primarily caused by poor dental hygiene regimes, but other factors can include smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes in women, and taking regular medication.
So if you picked up just two things in this blog, it would be to increase your daily dental care regime – and give up smoking. Not easy, we know, but it beats losing your teeth!
Thankfully, the discipline of Periodontics is very well advanced in this country, but wouldn't it be much better if you didn't have to call on a periodontist?If you’d like to learn a little more about this topic, may we recommend the following article -