Gum disease-Why you need to care for your mouth

Tooth brush

Most people will experience gum disease at one point or the other in their lifetime, if left unattended to, can lead to complications having significant negative impact on your health and wellbeing.

 

WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The gums become swollen, sore or infected.

Gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis are different stages of gum disease classified base on severity.

CAUSES:

Plaque – a sticky, colourless film constantly forms on the teeth. Failure to remove the plaque due to bad oral hygiene can lead to build up creating a good breeding ground for bacteria (some may be harmless). The build up of the plaque causes gum disease. If plaque is not removed it can harden and turn into tartar. Dental plaque will continue to form on the tartar. Brushing or flossing cannot remove tartar; you will need the services of a dentist.

SYMPTOMS:

You may not know that you have this condition because it is not always painful. A healthy gum should hold your teeth in place firmly.

Gum bleeding (when brushing or flossing) and red, swollen or tender gum are early signs of gum disease (gingivitis).

Consciously look out for other symptoms such as:- persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth, loose teeth, a change in the way your teeth come together, visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums, sharp or dull pains when chewing foods, teeth that are overly sensitive to cold or hot temperatures.

If you have any of these symptoms, kindly consult your dentist.

PREVENTION:

The easiest way to prevent gum disease is good oral hygiene. Your dentist will advise you brush your teeth for about two minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion everyday with toothpaste that contains the right amount of fluoride. Also floss your teeth regularly with a good mouthwash (preferably daily, before brushing your teeth) and avoid smoking.

Ensure to visit your dentist at least once every one to two years, but more frequently if necessary.

TREATMENT:

Gum disease should be treated by a dentist. Your dentist will let you know if you need such dental treatment as scaling and polishing (to remove plaque and tartar), root planning (to get rid of bacteria from the root of the teeth) or surgery for very severe condition.

Acute necrotising ulcerative Gingivitis (a severe type of gum disease) is usually treated with a combination of penicillin and metronidazole antibiotics. Patients allergic to penicillin will not be given amoxicillin. Discuss with your dentist for appropriate alternative.

Pain relievers are also prescribed to reduce pain and discomfort-most commonly prescribed is paracetamol. Antiseptic mouthwashes may also be prescribed. Ensure to ask your dentist/pharmacist the right direction of use for your mouthwash (some may need dilution).

 

Gum disease left untreated can cause you to loose your teeth; seek medical help before it is too late!

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Gum disease nhs.uk/Conditions/Gum-disease/
  2. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. Nineteenth Edition.
  3. Oral health webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease

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