Healthy gums are the foundation for your teeth, much like the foundation for your house. Healthy gums provide the support needed for your teeth to function as they should. Having unhealthy gums is like having termites in the foundation of your house. To the untrained eye, everything seems fine, but progressive and often irreversible damage is being done.
Are light pink (darker for people with darker complexions)
Are stippled, much like the surface of an orange
Are not tender or swollen
Don’t bleed when brushing or flossing
What Are Healthy Gums?
Gum disease (Periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. It is known as a “silent” disease because it is rarely painful, especially in the early stages. Bleeding gums is often the first warning sign most people have of Gum Disease.
Healthy Heart Starts with a Healthy Smile
Gum Disease can kill more than just your smile! Recent research has identified a link between Gum Disease and Heart Disease and other health problems. The bacteria associated with long-standing Gum Disease can enter your bloodstream and threaten your overall health.
Keeping Your Gums Healthy
Prevention and Early Detection are your best defences against Gum Disease.
Brush and floss twice daily.
Visit your dentist regularly and follow your dentist’s instructions for any special needs you may have.
Occasional use of mouthwashes for maintenance of good oral hygiene.
Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and ligaments that support the teeth and anchor them in the jaw. The bacteria are normal inhabitants of the mouth and form a film of dental plaque and calculus (tartar) which stick to the teeth. The bacteria produce poisonous toxins which stimulate the immune response to fight the infection. If the disease process is not stopped, the supporting structures of the teeth will continue to be destroyed. This eventually leads to tooth loss.
Periodontal disease can occur at any age. Over half of all people over the age of 18 have some form of the disease. After age 35, over 75% of all people are affected. Unfortunately, the disease process is usually asymptomatic and painless. The condition can be easily detected during regular dental examinations.
The most common type of periodontal disease is GINGIVITIS and PERIODONTITIS.
GINGIVITIS is an infection of the gingiva (gum tissue) and is the initial stage of the disease process. Gums become red, swollen and may bleed easily. Underlying bone levels are unaffected.
PERIODONTITIS is classified as being Mild, Moderate or Severe, depending upon the amount of destruction to the gums, ligaments and bone that surround teeth. As the disease progresses, gums separate from the teeth and form gum pockets. These pockets get deeper as the more underlying bone is destroyed. Gum pockets will collect increasing amounts of bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar) as the disease process worsens. Teeth will loosen as more bone is lost.
WARNING SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Tenderness, swelling, red color
An abscess ( pus oozing from the gums )
TREATMENT OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
The main goal of periodontal treatment is the eradication of the disease process from the gums, ligaments and bones that surround the teeth, and restoration of health that can be predictably maintained in the future.
Initial treatment involves educating patients in the proper methods of effective, daily plaque removal and oral hygiene. This is a critical component of successful therapy.
Scaling and root planing are performed to clean the tooth structure and remove bacterial plaque and calculus deposits (the source of the infection) from the gum pockets. This may be the only treatment necessary in cases of gingivitis and very mild periodontitis.
In cases which demonstrate deeper gum pockets and underlying bone loss, it becomes necessary to eliminate the diseased gum pockets and bony destruction with osseous (bone) surgery. The gum is “flapped” and retracted away from the teeth to expose the underlying roots and bone deformities. The bone is contoured to approximate a normal physiologic profile, and the gum is sutured back to place.
Fallacies About Gum Disease
Get the facts about this severe infection to save your teeth and protect your health.
FALLACY: Tooth loss is a natural part of ageing.
FACT: With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. However, if left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss. It is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults 35 and over.
FALLACY: People who have gum disease are “dirty” and don’t brush their teeth.
FACT: Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
FALLACY: Gum disease doesn’t affect overall health.
FACT: Emerging research links periodontal disease to other health problems including heart and respiratory diseases; preterm, low birthweight babies; stroke; osteoporosis; and diabetes.
FALLACY: Gum disease is a minor infection.
FACT: The mass of tissue in the oral cavity is equivalent to the skin on your arm that extends from the wrist to the elbow. If this area were red, swollen, and infected, you would visit the doctor. Gum disease is not a small infection. Its result, tooth loss, leads to a very different lifestyle—dentures. The changes in your appearance, breath, and ability to chew food are dramatic.
FALLACY: Bleeding gums are healthy.
FACT: Bleeding gums are one of the earliest warning signs of gum disease. Think of gum tissue as the skin on your hand. If your hands bled every time you washed them, you would know something is wrong. Other signs of gum disease include red, swollen or tender gums; sores in your mouth; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; persistent bad breath; pus between the teeth and gums (leaving bad breath); loose or separating teeth; a change in the way the teeth fit together; and a change in the fit of partial dentures.
FALLACY: Treatment for gum disease is painful.
FACT: New periodontal procedures, including local anaesthesia and over-the-counter medications, have made patients’ treatment experiences pleasant and comfortable. Many patients find they are back to normal routines on the same day or by the next day.
FALLACY: Gum disease is easy to identify, even in its early stages, so my dentist would tell me if I had it.
FACT: Millions of people don’t know they have this serious infection that can lead to tooth loss if not treated. You should always get involved in your dental care so that problems are detected in the early stages. You should inform your dentist if any signs of gum disease are present; or if any changes in your overall health or medications occurred in-between visits. Most importantly, you should ask your dentist about your periodontal health and what method was used to evaluate its condition. This level of participation enables you to work in a team approach with your dentist to identify subtle changes that may occur in the oral cavity.
FALLACY: Because gum disease is a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be used to treat it.
FACT: Research demonstrates that antibiotics can be a helpful adjunct to treating periodontal disease. However, medical and dental communities are concerned about the overuse of these medications in treating infections because of the possibility of the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This overuse would be detrimental to patients if they develop a life-threatening illness for which antibiotics would no longer be helpful.
FALLACY: Pregnant women should skip professional dental checkups.
FACT: Teeth and gums are affected during pregnancy like other tissues in the body. To decrease the risk of damaging the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth, pregnant women should schedule an appointment for a periodontal evaluation