Gum disease is dubbed as the silent killer largely because of the threats it poses to your health and well-being. Gum disease is present in 70-75 percent of the adult population and can be present in varying stages of severity.
The odds are that you have gum disease but don’t know about it yet and its implications on your overall health.
Here’s what you need to know about gum disease and what you need to do about it.
Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissues that envelope and uphold your teeth.
It all starts with a build-up of plaque, a sticky colourless film that repeatedly forms on teeth when the sugars and starches present in foods interact with the bacteria in your mouth. Plaque reforms quickly, typically within 24 hours.
If plaque stays on teeth for longer than a couple of days, it can harden under the gums becoming tartar. Tartar causes the plaque to harden, which becomes difficult to remove and creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone and requires removal by a professional.
Gum disease has three stages:
As gum disease is generally painless, you may not realise its presence. It is likely that you have gum disease but show no clear symptoms. That is one reason why regular dental check-ups and examinations are important. Early detection of gum disease can prevent you from developing further dental and health complications.
Being aware of the symptoms can help you identify if you are at one of the stages of gum disease.
So what do healthy gums look like? Healthy gums are pink in colour, firm, not swollen, and red. Healthy gums act as a wall that stops harmful bacteria from entering your body.
Now let’s look at some broad symptoms that you can experience, indicating an underlying condition of gum disease.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms at each stage of gum disease that you can identify and take necessary action in time to prevent further damage.
The word gingivitis comes from ‘gingiva’ that denotes the gums, and ‘itis’ denoting inflammation, so gingivitis is inflammation of the gums.
In a healthy gum, there is no redness, bleeding, sensitivity, and gums have a pocket depth of one to three millimetres that hug your teeth closely with no plaque deposits.
Plaque starts building in the gums due to the lack of adequate oral hygiene care. When bacteria start to grow in the plaque, it starts accumulating on the surface of the teeth.
If you are suffering from gingivitis, you will notice the following symptoms:
At this stage, gingivitis is still reversible and can be removed by a professional cleaning, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis comes from ‘peri’ means around, and ‘odon’ denotes the tooth, so it’s the inflammation and erosion of the supportive structures around the teeth.
If gingivitis is not controlled and left untreated, the condition can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is an infection of the gums that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth.
Continuous inflammation of the gums eventually creates pockets between the gums and teeth that collect plaque, tartar, and bacteria.
Symptoms of periodontitis:
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, seek an appointment of a Periodontist before it advances.
Over time the gum pockets deepen allowing even more bacteria to accumulate. This leads to the last stage. Advanced periodontitis is the final straw of the gum disease that results in the destruction of gum tissues, irreparable tooth decay, and loss of one or more teeth.
All the untreated symptoms experienced during gingivitis and periodontitis lead you to this stage.
This stage can prove to be extremely dangerous for your overall health as plaque can enter and migrate through the blood vessels exposing you to various health risks.
Below are a few elements that accelerate the risk of developing gum disease.
Gum disease is a curable condition if detected early on, if not, it’s treatment can become costly and time-consuming. Advanced gum disease can be stabilised and maintained with the right treatment as suggested by your Periodontist.
Due to the wide range of severity of gum disease, it’s hard to determine the average cost of the treatment.
The average cost of treatment can be between £120 – £4000. The range of costs can be as low as £90 for basic examination and full mouth treatment cost can start from £18,000 minimum.
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