Gum disease is caused by plaque, just like tooth decay. If the plaque isn’t removed with brushing, flossing or a mouth rinse, it can get under the gum line and attack the gums, making them red and puffy. You may also notice some bleeding when you brush your teeth.
If left, the gum disease can cause serious problems. The gum may start to come away from the tooth, creating ‘pockets’ around it where even more plaque can gather. Over time, the plaque will begin eating away at the bone which supports the tooth, which may mean you have to have that tooth removed.
Gum disease is very common in the UK, with most adults suffering some form of it, but it is very simple to prevent. Here are some top tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you pay special attention to the gum line too.
- Visit your dentist at least once a year. They will be able to spot gum disease early on and give you advice on how best to brush your teeth and the best way to floss.
- Stop smoking. It will make gum disease even worse.
In some cases gum disease can be treated easily by a dentist, although more severe cases may require further treatment. Remember the best way to reduce gum disease is by looking after your mouth well, so don’t forget to ask your dentist for tips on how best to brush your teeth.
One thing your dentist is likely to do is to scale your teeth. This removes the hardened plaque – known as tartar or calculus – from the tooth, especially behind your teeth and just below the gum line.
If you have advanced gum disease, your dentist may advise that you have a longer, more intensive treatment. This is known as root planing or curretage, and is basically an extension of the more usual scale and polish. The dentist – or hygienist – will give your teeth a really deep clean, going below the gum line and clearing any pockets of plaque.