Treating gum disease is relatively straightforward if you catch it early. However, if you leave it untreated it can become a very different beast altogether. Therefore early treatment of gum disease is always the best course of action, and as the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’.
In this blog post I will take you through the various stages of gum disease and their treatment. However, even if you only have a slight suspicion that you might be at risk of developing gum disease, I would recommend you read all the way through: the treatments for severe gum disease (periodontitis) will definitely motivate you to improving your gum health today!
Preventing Gum Disease
Most adults will suffer from gum disease at some stage of the lives. If you haven’t yet you’re in the minority or perhaps didn’t realise you had it. The reason some people do not realise they have had gum disease is because treatment in the early stages is really easy. Perhaps they notice a slight build up of plaque, the cause of gum disease, and improve their oral hygiene routine to address this issue and stop the problem getting worse.
That’s all it takes: a good oral hygiene routine. This means brushing at least twice a day for two minutes. Always brushing before you go to bed. Using floss regularly to remove food particles, and interdentals to clean in between your teeth. You can also introduce a GumSaver brush a few times a week to clean below the gum line and remove the bacteria that causes gum disease.
Regular check ups at your dentist are also an excellent preventative measure: ensuring you find out about any signs of gum disease early so you can take action.
Treating Gum Disease In The Early Stages (Gingivitis)
The early warning signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth, and bad breath. You may also notice that your gums are receding, making your teeth look longer than they were, and the gums may also look inflamed.
The advice for treating gum disease is the same as for preventing it: put a really effective oral hygiene routine in place, and stick to it. Many people avoid brushing the sensitive areas of their mouth, for example where your gums are bleeding. Although it may not be very pleasant to see blood on your toothbrush you really must continue to clean these areas thoroughly, as this is where you have a bacterial infection.
Effectively removing this bacteria will stop the problem from getting worse, so a few days of unpleasantness is definitely worth it. You may also like to use a medicated mouthwash for a short period of time. Most dentists don’t recommend continued use of mouthwashes; instead just use it until the symptoms clear up, ideally no longer than a week. If your symptoms don’t improve, you should take advice from your dentist.
You should also avoid sugary and acidic foods, especially if you think you have gum disease. These are the main culprits that cause gum disease, so to increase your chances of an effective treatment you should reduce the quantities you consume. In fact this is good advice for preventing gum disease altogether, and will have a positive impact on your overall health too.
Removing plaque effectively from your teeth is the best way to prevent a build up of tartar – the substance formed when minerals in your salvia (such as calcium) combine with plaque to form a hard layer or calculus. Once formed tartar can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist.
The good news is that gingivitis (the early stages of gum disease) can be effectively treated and its’ effects reversed.
Treatment For Severe Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
If gingivitis is left untreated you can develop a range of oral health problems and periodontitis. These include abscesses, pain, and tooth loss that will require treatment by a dentist. Gingivitis turns into periodontitis when plaque spreads below the gum line resulting in the creation of ‘pockets’, or spaces between the teeth and gum. Once gum disease reaches the bone it is known as periodontitis, which in turn can cause abscesses, tooth loosening and ultimately tooth loss.
Typically the worse affected teeth will be at the back of the mouth in areas that are hard to reach and clean effectively. Treating gum disease when it’s advanced to periodontitis will vary depending on the severity of the problem. Your dentist may recommend a scale and polish, several if necessary; root planning (debridement) to deep clean below the gum line where bacteria collect around the roots of your teeth; extraction and / or periodontal surgery. Although the number of people in the UK with gum disease is high (90%), the majority of them have gingivitis not periodontitis; fortunately catching gum disease in the early stages has a positive impact on the numbers suffering severe periodontal disease.
When it comes to treating gum disease I think you’ll agree that prevention is better than cure, so follow these simple steps for improving your oral hygiene routine:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride,
- Brush in circular movements for at least 2 minutes each time,
- Always brush your teeth last thing at night to reduce the bacteria in your mouth overnight,
- Floss daily and use interdentals regularly,
- Use a GumSaver brush several times a week to clean below the gum line,
- Visit your dentist regularly for check ups,
- Stop smoking – smokers are at higher risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers.