Periodontics & Gum Health - Do you Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease, in my opinion, is the silent killer in dentistry. We are all so focused on how our teeth looks (is it white enough? can it get whiter?), on cosmetic dentistry and implant dentistry that we forget that the gums are the foundation of our teeth. If you have bad gums, no matter how much you spend on crowns, bridges or implants, nothing is going to last, period.

So why is it so serious? Simply put, it causes the gradual loosening of your teeth, and in severe cases, eventually this leads to the loss of all teeth.

How does gum disease occur?

Gum disease simply starts from having dirty teeth. In the previous post, we emphasized the importance of proper toothbrushing habits as well as going for regular cleaning visits to your dentist; failing which, plaque(and it’s solid form, calculus) accumulates.

As plaque is nasty stuff made up of bacteria and dirt, it’s accumulation will eventually cause your gums to be irritated and swollen. If it is still not taken care of, the gums and the bone supporting the teeth slowly becomes loose, causing your teeth to become shaky, and eventually, drop.

SIGNS that you have gum disease

Gum disease, or periodontitis, manifests itself in different ways. In a large number of cases, you may not even be aware that you have a problem, hence it is important to present yourself for regular checkups at your dentist, However, here are some telltale signs that you may have an issue:

1) You have numerous shaky teeth

Gum disease, in its end stages, causes your teeth to be mobile. Please visit your dentist immediately for examination!

2) You are suffering from diabetes, or you are a smoker

Singapore recently waged a ‘war on diabetes’, spending money to increase awareness, prevention, and treatment for diabetes. This is all for good reason. Diabetes is responsible for a whole host of medical issues, including gum disease. Studies have shown that up to of people suffering from diabetes also have gum disease.

If you smoke, you also have a way higher risk for gum disease. Most studies show that smokers are 2-6 times more likely to have gum disease compared to non smokers; one study even places their risk at 14-fold.

My advice:

For diabetics – please visit your dentist regularly and keep your teeth clean. Early diagnosis of gum disease is important.

For smokers, a gentle reminder:

3) You have swollen gums:

If your gums are always swollen, bleeding or oozing pus, this may be another indication. It is normal to have your gums bleed occasionally when brushing your teeth, but it should not look like the picture above.

4) You have receded gums!

Gum disease usually manifests itself as receding gumline. However, do note that it is normal for your gumline to recede slightly as you age. This is due to normal wear and tear. In periodontitis, however, the receded gums are marked and severe.

5) You have persistent bad breath

This is not a strong indicator as bad breath affects many people. Bad breath may be due to improper oral hygiene habits (you don’t floss!), the foods you take, or it may be genetic in nature. However, if you have persistent bad breath even though you brush, floss and use mouthrinse, it may be a sign that you have gum disease.

Why is gum disease the silent killer of dentistry?

Gum disease progresses slowly and steadily, usually without symptoms or signs. Most people only discover it when their teeth shake. However, this represents gum disease at its end stages, meaning that it is usually too late and the only option is extraction.

In its early stages, gum disease goes mostly unrecognised. Patients that I have treated usually have no cluethat they are showing early signs.

Dentists are trained to detect gum disease at its early stages and treat them accordingly. This can only be diagnosed at a proper consultation visit – hence, the importance of regular dental visits.

How do I cure my gum disease?

So you have the symptoms mentioned above and you think that you have gum disease. Now what should you do and how do you treat it? Once your gum disease is diagnosed by your dentist, treatment usually varies depending on how severe your condition is.

Because gum disease stems from dirty teeth, the first stage of treating it will usually be a round of deep cleaning. Deep cleaning is similar to normal scaling visits, but the dentist usually uses different tools to clean deep into the gums. Sounds painful? Yup, it is pretty uncomfortable. However, deep cleaning is usually done under local anesthetic so you won’t feel a thing during the procedure. Your dentist may also prescribe you mouthwashes/antibiotics if needed.

For mild cases, deep cleaning and proper oral hygiene habits usually solves the problem. For severe cases (think shaky teeth, receded gums), more complicated techniques such as surgery and gum tissue grafting may be needed. I am sure that your dentist will provide you more information pertaining to your case.

If not, feel free to drop me an email and maybe your question will be featured on this site!

Cheers,

The Dentist

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