Gum diseases: what are they?
Your gums are the perfect hiding place for bacteria and food debris. Often, its appearance can be a good indicator of the quality of your oral hygiene and of the presence of a gum or periodontal disease. Know that around 1 in 2 Canadians is affected by gingivitis and more than 90% of people over 30 are concerned by it. If taken care of, it can heal easily or otherwise become chronic and attack the surrounding tissue.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a gum disease that comes from the accumulation of dental calculus and plaque, causing inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. It’s possible that certain areas of your mouth are harder to reach with the toothbrush and floss. Bacteria on your teeth with create toxins that will irritate your gums so that they can go in them and proliferate. If these microorganisms are not properly removed, their multiplication can continue deeper under the gums. They will move to the supporting bone, called periodontium and thus create inflammation on it: that’s periodontitis.
Gingivitis has 3 stages, each with its own symptoms. The more advanced the stage of the disease, the less likely it will be possible to bring the gums back to their former healthy state. After these 3 stages, gingivitis can transform into periodontitis, which is defined as a point of no return.
- Stage 1: the gums bleed easily during brushing or flossing.
- Stage 2: gums bleed profusely and easily, and a redness is perceptible to the eye
- Stage 3: Severe gingivitis. The gums bleed very profusely. At this point there’s the presence of an edema : a swelling of the gums that can also cause a slightly darker coloration to them.
If the disease progresses, it can attack the tooth supporting bones: the periodontium.
Not all cases of gingivitis turn into cases of periodontitis. Periodontitis happens when bacteria attack the bone supporting the arch of your teeth. The microorganisms will then destroy the bone, thus reducing its level of support. Your dentist and your dental hygienist regularly check the periodontitis levels at each one of your appointments and can keep an eye on how the disease progresses. A weakening of the periodontium is natural and happens gradually with age, but the apparition of a periodontal disease considerably accelerates this proces and can lead to premature loss of the affected teeth. We say that periodontitis is a point of no return because, as opposed to gingivitis, an easily-curable disease, bone loss is irreversible and permanent.
Other symptoms to consider
In addition to the clues given by your gums, other symptoms associated with gingivitis can be observed:
- Sensitivity or pain in the gums;
- Bad breath;
- Formation of abscess with or without pus;
- Gum loosening.
Gingivitis treatment and prevention
A light gingivitis can be eliminated in only a few weeks. The best way is definitely descaling, regularly done at your clinic. The dental hygienist will eliminate all food debris and calculus residues that you usually have trouble eliminating with the toothbrush. By cleaning under the gums, bacteria causing inflammation are removed. If the gingivitis is at a higher stage, using an antibacterial mouthwash can be recommended.
One thing is for sure: the brunt of the work is in your hands: following good hygiene habits and professional recommendations is to be taken seriously if you want to maintain good gum health.
For an optimal gingivitis prevention strategy, here are the most effective methods:
- Have good dental hygiene (including minimum twice daily 3 minute long brushing, with flossing).
- Don’t neglect regular cleaning appointments at the dentist
- Avoid eating sweet and acidic foods too often
Don’t neglect your dental appointments
Gingivitis holding no secrets from you anymore, you now understand a little better the importance of applying proper dental hygiene methods as well as following your dentist’s recommendations. Although usually localized and temporary, gum inflammation is not to be taken lightly considering the possible complications. We remind you about the importance of going to your cleaning appointments to prevent the apparition or worsening of any oral disease. Make an appointment at Clinique Dentaire Champlain, it’ll be our pleasure to guide you in maintaining good dental habits!