Gum Problems and Gum Diseases
Gum problems, receding or shrinking gums:
Gum problems such as dental gum diseases, gum diseases treatment, bleeding gums, periodontal gum abscess, gum pockets, plaque, mouthwashes, scaling, bad breath, halitosis, pus and recurring gum infections, are all dental signs that help and treatments are needed.
Please read below about this silent dental disease that is still THE major cause of tooth loss in the UK today! Sadly some people cannot help it as perhaps 15-30% of the population are genetically predisposed to gum diseases, as if their immune systems either overreact or under-react to any bacteria build up in their mouths, but this can still be greatly reduced or slowed down by having great Oral Hygiene habits, some clever diet changes and regular visits to your Dentist, Hygienist or Specialist, perhaps 3 monthly, to help keep most of your teeth for life. It takes determination though to compensate for this vulnerability of the gums.
People born today could easily be living to an average of 100 years old, so having enough teeth to talk, smile and eat comfortably with, is desirable, so prevention and regular deposits removal and having your homecare checked and refined, can make a significant difference to your dental health AND as you'll read below, gum diseases are connected to general medical problems and health too !!!
Do I have Periodontal (Gum) Diseases?
Periodontal diseases are common infections of the teeth, gums and the bone that surrounds the teeth. Most people who have periodontal gum diseases aren't even aware of it. It's rarely painful, especially in its early stages. The main cause of periodontal gum diseases is the accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the sticky tooth-coloured film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. If this continues to build up in thick layers, the nasty bacteria can really get to work causing gum disease and gum shrinkage as well as decay in the roots of the teeth too. Here is a picture of a rather severe case, but they are not in any great pain and don't believe in visiting their Dentist or Hygienist regularly either:
from © 2000-2010 Smile Specialist® & Tony©
It's hard to see plaque normally unless it builds up to a really thick layer that has been around long enough to pick up staining too, so sometimes we have to stain this with artificial dye (eg: food colouring) by chewing a disclosing tablet, that colours the soft plaque red or blue.
Because the sticky tooth-coloured Plaque layer is full of bacteria, we must completely remove plaque each day, or it builds up and up and eventually mineralizes to become hard tartar, also called calculus. It takes a professional to remove hard tartar; there's no way for you to remove it at home safely. A toothbrush or floss won't budge it. If tartar isn't removed, it spreads onto the root surfaces, causing permanent gum damage and bad breath. Tartar can show up on X-rays as small white lumps on the sides of the teeth. Bacteria that cause periodontal gum diseases thrive here and love hiding in tartar, where they cannot be cleaned away and all their "waste" toilet products get dumped into your gums and bloodstream too.
Indeed it has been in the news now several times how Gum Diseases are linked with other medical conditions, such as heart Attacks and other illnesses. Because Mouth Bacteria produce toxins in the gums which have a good blood supply, it's these toxins, combined with your body's reaction to them, that destroys bone around your teeth, deepening your gum pockets and possibly transferring such poisons around your body too, causing complications there.
Always remember, the MOUTH is connected to the rest of the BODY, so mouth infection and disease MUST have negative effects on one's general health! Indeed it is now recognised you are TWICE as likely to have Heart Disease if you have gum disease too.
Some of the warning signs of periodontal disease are:
Persistent bad breath
Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
Soft, swollen or tender gums
Gums separating away from the teeth
Changes in the spaces between your teeth, which reflect changes in the underlying bone levels
Keep in mind, however, that you can have periodontal diseases and still experience none of these symptoms!
That is another reason for regular Dental check-ups, to discover any hidden gum problems early.
Where/how does gum disease start?
The roots of the teeth extend into the bone of the jaw. When everything is healthy, the bone comes up around the necks of the teeth and is even throughout the mouth. The crevice between the tooth and gums, called the sulcus, is two to three millimetres deep when it's healthy. When plaque and tartar invade a sulcus and becomes deeper than three millimetres, it's called a pocket. Pockets are excellent hiding places for plaque and bacteria, so the problem usually worsens, and bone tissue is lost. Once the bone has been lost, it RARELY grows back. C Copied from © 2000-2010 Smile Specialist® & Tony©opied from © 2000-2010 Smile Specialist® & Tony©
When too much bone is lost, there's so little support for the teeth that they get loose and have to be removed. This used to be called "Pyorrhoea".Since you may have periodontal disease, yet have none of the symptoms, your dentist will perform a thorough examination using a periodontal probe to measure bone levels around the teeth. X-rays may confirm any bone loss. When the bone level falls, the gums pull away from the tooth, forming a vertical pocket. Your dentist measures the depth of this pocket with a periodontal probe. The measurement is from the bottom of the pocket, where the gum is attached to the tooth, to the top of the gums.
Even this mouth above can be made healthy again - admittedly until a good cleaning has occurred, we don't know how bad the damage is underneath, so a few teeth may be beyond saving, however, if the tartar is removed, teeth cleaned and filled, the gums get firmer and pinker and tighter around the teeth, everything becomes stable and the gaps could be restored so there is a complete smile again. Obviously the sooner this happens the better the outcome and results of treatments, if the mouth above isn't fixed soon, bad breath, bleeding gums and infection spreading to other parts of their body won't be their only problems - abscesses and death can still be caused by Dental Infections spreading in the bloodstream, known as Septicaemia.
Bleeding gums may be a sign of infection and should be treated early. Healthy gums don't usually bleed! Your dentist also examines the colour and shape of the gums. Notice the pink colour and the lightly stippled appearance of the healthy gums, like the surface of an orange.Look especially close at the difference of the gums between the teeth.This is where periodontal disease usually starts. X-rays can tell us a lot about periodontal disease and how often much bone has been lost, by this relatively "silent" destructive gum disease problem. In general, the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of periodontal gum disease.
You too can use disclosing tablets (a vegetable dye used to stain bacterial plaque) to check you aren't missing areas when you think you are cleaning OK - bad habits can start in childhood than have destructive consequences later in life, so it's never too early to check you are cleaning your mouth 100% correctly!
So in summary, gum disease is difficult to spot yourself until it's in it's later, destructive stages, but it is preventable or reducible for most people. Thus regular dental checks and gum cleanings and/or gum treatments are essential to prevent gum infections, gum shrinkage and total tooth loss!
So now you know how your dentist finds periodontal gum diseases, even if they are difficult to spot in your mouth:
1. Gum probe readings greater than three millimetres deep within your gum pockets
2. Bleeding gums when one probes your gum pockets gently, without another obvious cause
3. Swollen and red gums, associated with bad breath and plaque or tartar deposits on the gum line
4. Bone loss or tartar build-up that may also show on your X-rays.
5. Receding gums (long in the tooth) possibly aggravated by overbrushing too.
*Dr.Kilcoyne is a UK registered Specialist in Prosthodontics (GDC No.58373) which includes The Functional and Cosmetic Dentistry aspects of Crowns, Dental Implants, Bridges, Veneers, Fillings, Dentures, Bonding etc. Please go to our MAKE an APPOINTMENT page if you'd like to access his Expertise.
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