A recent poll revealed that 60% of adults knew little, if anything about gum diseases, the symptoms or the consequences, although gum diseases are the primary cause of adult tooth loss.

The bottom line? If you want to keep your teeth, it’s essential to practice proper oral hygiene which includes brushing your teeth, gums and tongue. Yes … your tongue because it occupies a third of your mouth and is a moist breeding ground for bacteria.

Bad Bacteria ImageYour mouth is a busy place, with millions of bacteria constantly on the move. While some bacteria are harmless, others can attack your teeth and gums if not removed promptly. Harmful bacteria are contained in a sticky, colourless film called plaque.

Gum diseases begin with plaque which is always forming on the teeth, without you even knowing it. When it accumulates, it can harden into tartar in as little as 24 hours which can only be removed by professional hygiene therapy.

Dubbed a “silent epidemic”, periodontal disease can progress painlessly, yielding few obvious signs, even in later stages of the disease.

Although the symptoms of periodontal diseases are often subtle, they are not entirely without warning signs that can include: gums that bleed during and after brushing or flossing; persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth; red, swollen or tender gums; changes in the way your teeth (or dentures) fit together when biting. Bleeding, although not always a symptom of gingivitis, is a warning sign that your mouth is unhealthy and in need of professional attention.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis are the two principal stages of gum disease. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis.

At this stage, the inner layer of the gums and bone recede from the teeth and form small spaces called pockets which collect debris and can become infected. As the disease progresses, these pockets deepen resulting in the destruction of more gum tissue and bone.

People who smoke are at significantly greater risk of developing periodontitis, and smoking can lower your chances of successfully treating the disease, so if you’re a smoker why not quit now? Hormonal changes can also make gums increasingly sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.

Certain medications can also affect your oral health because they lessen the production of saliva which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Moreover, poor nutrition can make it difficult for the immune system to fight off infection, and consuming sugars or foods that increase acidity in the mouth can enable periodontal diseases to thrive.

The good news? You can keep your teeth & gums healthy by visiting us twice a year for professional hygiene therapy, and by brushing & flossing effectively twice daily.

Yours for better dental health,

Dr. James Hallam