Gum diseases: All you need to kNOw

Around 60% of the global population suffers from gum diseases

Gum diseases might not show any symptom initially or there might be redness in the gums surrounding the teeth, or a non -threatening bleeding while brushing (that too if you are using the proper method). If ignored continually, it can result in the loss of teeth.

What are gum diseases?

Gum diseases are a group of progressive diseases of the tissue that surrounds and attaches the tooth to the underlying bone. It starts with a swelling/ redness of the tissue just adjacent to the tooth, progressing to involving the entire width of the gums and finally affecting the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone, resulting in loosening of the tooth in the socket and finally the loss of the tooth

In medical terms the progression of gum diseases can be characterized as  

1.      Papillary gingivitis: Presenting as redness in the gums between two teeth

2.      Marginal gingivitis: Involving the margin of the gums along the tooth

3.      Diffused gingivitis: Involves the entire width of the gingiva

4.      Periodontitis: Involves the periodontal ligament that attaches the tooth to the underlying bone

Gum diseases can be painful at times, and the earlier the treatment is undertaken, lesser invasive methods can be used to treat the condition.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by bacterial growth on the tooth surface adjacent to the gums and at the point of attachment of the gums to the tooth.

These bacteria divide, forming colonies. These colonies form the sticky white substance on the teeth that appears few hours after brushing, known as plaque.

The plaque itself has the potential to cause swelling and redness in the gums.

If the plaque isn’t removed regularly by brushing, it calcifies forming hard deposits on the teeth known as calculus.

Though gum diseases are very common in the general population, there are certain diseases/ conditions that make an individual more susceptible to gum diseases. These include:

1.      Pregnancy

2.      Diabetes

3.      Obesity

4.      Dry mouth

5.      Certain medications like anti-epileptics  

How to determine if you have got gum disease?

 Although accurate determination requires professional evaluation. There are some symptoms that can help you determine if you need to take professional advice. These include

1.      Bleeding of the gums while brushing

2.      Bleeding when biting on something hard such as an apple

3.      Swelling and redness in the gums

4.      Constant bad breath which might persist after brushing

5.      You feel your teeth to be covered by a sticky layer or yellow/ brown or black deposits

6.      Your teeth feel to move at times

7.      There is an increased generalized sensitivity in your teeth

How can gum diseases be prevented?

Although it is impossible to keep the teeth totally free of plaque, removing the plaque at regular intervals using the correct brushing technique helps in preventing gum disease.

It is generally recommended to get a professional cleaning of your teeth to be done every 6 months to prevent gum diseases

Also, if you have any of the conditions listed above it is best to consult a dentist to understand the best way to manage the condition.

What is the treatment of gum diseases?

The treatment depends on the stage to which the disease has progressed. If a small area of the gums is involved simple scaling (professional cleaning) could help in treating the condition. With gradual progression of the disease to diffuse gingivitis and advanced stages of periodontitis surgical treatment might be required to treat the condition.

If the disease is very advanced and the teeth are loose and moving the final option might be to remove the teeth and replace the missing tooth/teeth by a bridge or an implant.

The most important factor is to evaluate at what stage is your gum disease and what is the best treatment option available.

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