Don’t grin and bear it, gum disease can be serious

Q. HOW can I prevent gum disease?

A. Gum disease occurs when the gums become swollen, sore or infected and can bleed when brushing your teeth. It affects more than half of all adults in the UK at least once in their lives and can vary in degrees of seriousness. There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums where they can be red and swollen and can bleed when you brush your teeth. Periodontal disease is when the tissues supporting the teeth are affected. If this is left untreated, the disease will worsen the effects and could eventually lead to bone loss. This means that teeth are left unsupported and can become loose. Ultimately this will lead to teeth falling out.

Gum disease is caused when there is a build-up of bacteria-ridden plaque on the teeth, formed from eating and drinking. If you don’t brush your teeth regularly or properly, you risk the build-up of plaque which will eventually start to irritate your gums. If yo u smoke, this can also make the situation worse – smoking restricts oxygen in the bloodstream and so the infected gums will not heal. By maintaining good oral hygiene you can help prevent gum disease.

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss and attend regular dental check-ups so that your dentist or hygienist will be able to clean your teeth thoroughly and remove tartar. If the gum disease is severe, you might need to have further treatments and surgery may be needed to be carried out by a periodontics specialist.

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