What is gum disease and how to prevent it?

Gum disease has different definitions depending on its severity, and can be put into two categories of Gingivitis or Periodontitis.

Chronic gingivitis affects 95% of the adult population of the UK and is also found in children. It is not painful so people don’t know they have it and can ignore the signs.

Causes of gum disease

  • The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene; mature plaque that has been left in the mouth for a long time has anaerobic bacteria that releases toxins causing inflammation of the gums.
  • The secondary causes of gingivitis; do not automatically cause gingivitis but makes it harder for patients to prevent it from developing: anything that aids plaque retention such as:
  1. • Overhanging fillings
  2. • Ill fitting crowns, bridges or dentures
  3. • Orthodontic appliances
  4. • Hormonal changes can exaggerate how the gums react to mature plaque causing gum disease:

                       • Pregnancy  

                       • Puberty          

                       • Ovulation 

                       • Menopause

Some medications can cause gingival enlargement (swelling of the gums) making it harder to remove plaque so it matures causing gingivitis ;be aware of the side effects of certain medications for the treatment of epilepsy and high blood pressure .


Signs and symptoms

The first signs and symptoms of gingivitis are bleeding of the gums when brushing, eating or even over night during your sleep. Then comes swelling and change of colour, the gums will appear red and lose its healthy stippled appearance.

Due to the mature plaque left in the mouth halitosis (bad breath) can also be a symptom.

Clinical features that the dentist is more likely to notice is loss of contour of the gums at the interdental papillae( the triangles of gum between the teeth) will lose their typical pointed shape due to inflammation.


Later stages

Chronic gingivitis turns to chronic periodontitis when the plaque retention has been there for a period of time long enough to dmage the supporting structures of the tooth. Around 5% of adults are affected by periodontitis and it develops from untreated gingivitis.

Gingivitis is reversible but periodontitis isn’t so it is important to treat and prevent gingivitis effectively.

 How to prevent gingivitis

You can help yourself avoid suffering from gingivitis By:

• Removing all plaque retention sights as described previously.

• Brushing effectively and frequently.

• A mouth wash containing chlorhexidine for those with poor manual dexterity.

• Inter dental cleaning such as floss or tepe brushes.

• Regular check ups with the dentist to catch it before it develops.

• Not smoking and not drinking alcohol excessively.

• Chewing sugar free gum.



Treatment for gingivitis is very simple:

• Giving a patient oral hygiene instruction to ensure they are cleaning correctly.

• A scale and polish with the hygienist to remove plaque.

• Smoking cessation advice.

• Using disclosing tablets after brushing to disclose areas where the brushing has missed and the plaque still remains.

Treatment for periodontitis can be a lot more complicated:

• Antibiotics

• Removal of teeth.

• Periodontal surgery.

If you think you have gingivitis or periodontitis it is best to get it checked by a dentist, At Caspian Dental clinic we can offer you free oral health advice on how to brush correctly and show you the correct techniques for interdental cleaning. book your appointment today by calling 01923 254979 or book online at www.caspiandentalclinic.com.

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