If your gums are swollen, red or bleeding, you might have gum disease. One of the most common oral health problems in Australia, gum disease (periodontal disease) can affect people of all ages.
If you think you might have gum disease, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss treatments and home remedies. The good news is, gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene.
Gum disease symptoms
There are two main stages of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the first stage, which can normally be reversed by improving your oral hygiene. Some of the common symptoms are:
- pink, red, swollen or tender gums
- gums bleed when you brush your teeth
- bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. You might have this if you also have:
- receding gums
- pain when eating
- loose teeth
Periodontitis usually requires treatment from a dentist. If it isn't treated, it can permanently damage the gums, teeth and jaws and even lead to tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is the infection of the gums by bacteria in plaque, a layer of germs that builds up on the teeth. Your body fights the infection through inflammation, the swelling of the gums that can make them more sensitive and prone to bleeding.
You'll be at higher risk of gum disease if:
- you don't brush and floss your teeth regularly to remove plaque
- you have a lot of sugar in your diet, which feeds the bacteria
- you smoke
- you have certain health conditions linked to gum disease, such as diabetes
When should I see a dentist?
You should make an appointment at your local dental clinic if you think you have any symptoms of gum disease. Your dentist will check your teeth, gums and mouth, which might include taking an x-ray to see if there's any damage to your teeth or jaws below the surface.
If gum disease is found, your dentist will educate you on how to improve your oral hygiene at home to reverse its effects. They might also recommend teeth cleaning and scaling to remove plaque and calculus deposits from your teeth or root planing to remove plaque from below the gums.
How to prevent gum disease
You can usually prevent gum disease or help a treatment along by maintaining good oral hygiene and lowering your risk factors. This means:
- brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste – making sure you brush down to the gum line and taking care if your gums are sensitive
- flossing your teeth around the gums to remove food or plaque
- gargling with an antibacterial mouthwash, if this is recommended by your dentist
- cutting down on sugary food and drink, especially between meals
- not smoking
- drinking plenty of water, especially tap water containing fluoride
- if you wear dentures, cleaning them twice a day
- if you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels to avoid complications
- visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and teeth cleaning
Preventive care on the Gold Coast
If you're worried about gum disease, or you're due for a check-up and clean, contact our team at Robina Town Dental. Our caring and experienced oral health therapists Tanya Thompson, Isabella Garroch-white, Martin Sinnett and Caitlin Booth can provide preventive treatments to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
We use EMS Airflow® technology for less invasive teeth cleaning and we'll also apply fluoride to your teeth to help keep plaque at bay. We're committed to continuing education so we can give you and your family the best advice about how to look after your smiles.
Healthdirect. Gum disease [Online] 2019 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gum-disease
Better Health Channel. Gum disease [Online] 2019 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/gum-disease