Gum Disease

Hello again. In this posting, I shall be discussing the way gum disease starts; and how it progresses. I shall also reveal how gum disease is preventable; just by following a good and systematic home care regime.

Before I go into the details; I would like to mention a few scientific facts about gum disease and its effects on your general health:

Gum disease is on the rise; and that it is the major cause of tooth loss. Each molar lost; reduces the chewing efficiency by around 10%. Therefore; the food entering the stomach is not well chewed; and hence; the intestines have to work harder to digest and absorb the food you eat. The partially chewed food can cause many stomach and digestion problems.
It has been proven without a doubt that the bacteria that cause gum disease, can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream; and can increase the likelihood of heart problems in certain individuals.

There is some evidence to suggest that prolonged untreated gum disease could contribute to low birth weight.

These facts are major causes of concern; as gum disease not only affects your gums and teeth; but it could cause other health problems as well.

Let us first have a look at the characteristics of healthy gums; and to illustrate; please have a look at this photograph. Healthy gums are firm; pale pink; do not bleed with pressure or during brushing; fill the spaces between the teeth and do not cause pain or tenderness.

Diseased gums; on the other hand are red, with rounded edges; bleed spontaneously or with gentle brushing; are tender to touch and the tooth surface next to it is covered with plaque (soft deposits) and/or tartar (hard; yellowish or even dark brown deposits).

The gum tissue surrounding the tooth seals the attachment system that secures the tooth root to the jawbone (called periodontal tissues) from the mouth environment (as it is full of bacteria). This natural biological seal is vital to the health of the periodontal attachment system; as it is a sterile area.

When plaque bacteria are allowed to accumulate around the gum margins; they secrete very powerful enzymes and toxins which break down this seal; subsequently; the bacteria infiltrate deeper and deeper into the gum “pocket” and destroy the attachment system little by little. As the tooth loses part of this vital attachment system; it begins to move more and more during normal function. This movement accelerates the breakdown already started; and eventually the tooth becomes very mobile and eventual loss becomes the final outcome.

Remember that the process is virtually painless and the first sign people notice could just be tooth mobility.

So; how can you prevent this nasty condition?

As I mentioned above; you have to follow a systematic and consistent home care routine which includes:

Cleaning ALL your tooth surfaces thoroughly and effectively using small circular tooth brushing movements (manual toothbrush) resting on the gums throughout (and if the gums bleed; ignore it and carry on). If you have an electric toothbrush; just hold it with firm pressure on one section of your teeth and gums before you move to the next section. Make sure that you clean the inside surfaces of the teeth.

Floss to clean in between the teeth; and if you find flossing difficult; use the small interdental brush BEFORE you brush your teeth. Do not use toothpicks!

Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly to check your gums and help treat any pre-existing conditions which may cause potential gum problems.

If you smoke; stop smoking or at least seek advice on how to quit; smoking can make gum disease progress faster and cause more destruction.

See our preventative dentistry services for more information.