What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Mild gum disease causes inflammation and bleeding which can progress to severe gum disease, causing destruction of the bone surrounding the teeth and recession of the gum. It can lead to mobility of teeth and eventually complete loss of the teeth.
Who is at risk?
Gum disease is typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden. Smokers are more prone to it because smoking makes it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
People with diseases or on medication affecting saliva flow or immune responses are also at a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Signs and symptoms
Gum disease usually starts out as redness, irritation and bleeding of the gums. Later stages manifest in gum recession, periodontal abscesses, halitosis, deposits of tartar (calculus) on the teeth and tooth mobility.
Gum disease can be diagnosed by a history of bleeding of the gums or any other sign or symptom present.
Thorough brushing, flossing and biannual check-ups are necessary to prevent gum infections.
Gingivitis can be treated by prophylaxis, which is a type of cleaning done on mild gum disease to remove plaque deposits. In more severe cases calculus deposits on the tooth are removed by ultrasonic scaling and root planning.
If the gum disease has caused a periodontal abscess (pus filled swelling), antibiotics will be used, sometimes in conjunction with a mouthwash.