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Periodontal Disease - Symptoms & Prevention

Did you know that gum disease has been linked to more serious conditions such as Alzheimers disease and heart disease? Gum disease can be easily prevented, but if left untreated, it can lead to dental cavities and even abscesses. Follow these simple steps to protect your teeth.

Over the course of your lifetime, your teeth are likely to require at least some dental work to repair damage. Since our teeth are not self-repairing and are susceptible to the build-up of bacteria, decay is easily the most common cause of dental damage. Through a combination of good oral hygiene routines and regular visits to your dentist, your teeth can remain relatively healthy throughout your life.

In addition to cavities, there are other oral health issues that can be caused by poor oral hygiene, gingivitis and periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis, which is often referred to as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a non destructive inflamation of the gum tissue. It is caused by the build-up of plaque on or in-between the teeth. Plaque is a biofilm that coats the teeth and contains colonies of bacteria, these bacteria infect the gums and cause the symptomizing red and swollen inflammation.

Plaque forms on teeth because of calculus, which creates a rough surface which the plaque can adhere to. Ordinarily our teeth are smooth, but over time, minerals from saliva build up on our teeth, creating the ideal environment for plaque to form. Calculus will not be removed by normal brushing, this is why it is so important to have your teeth professionally de-scaled and polished on a regular basis.

What is Periodontitis ?

In some cases, Gingivitis will become more severe and progress to Periodontitis. The inflammation caused by Gingivitis will eventually create gaps between the gums and the teeth, allowing debris and plaque to gather in the spaces. The human immune response to this is to produce enzymes to fight against the spread of bacteria.

Bacteria, however, have their own form of attack. They will produce toxins that, together with the immune system’s enzymes, will eat away at connective tissue and bone, resulting in the eventual loosening and loss of teeth.

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

It’s often the case that gum disease will progress unnoticed or with few indications that anything is wrong. There are, however, symptoms you can look out for if you are informed about this disease.

  • Gums that are swollen, appear redder than usual or are tender to the touch.

  • Bleeding gums after brushing your teeth, which is caused by inflammation and increased blood flow.

  • Gums that have receded due to detachment from the teeth.

  • An advanced symptom of periodontal disease is the loosening of teeth, or teeth that have changed position.

  • The overall way your teeth fit and come together when biting down might change.

If you notice any of these symptoms, a dentist or periodontist can check to confirm whether periodontal disease is present and if it is progressing.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by the build up of bacteria in the mouth cavity, so proper oral hygiene can prevent and even reverse the onset of this disease. It is advised that you brush regularly to remove the plaque that builds-up on the surface of teeth, as well a flossing to eliminate any plaque between the teeth. Regular visits to your dental hygienist for professional de-scaling and polishing are also essential.

You can also make changes to your health and lifestyle that can help towards preventing or reducing the severity of gum disease.

  • Quitting smoking

  • Improving your nutritional intake by consuming food that contains anti-oxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.

  • Breaking a habit of grinding your teeth or clenching.

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