What is gum disease?
- Gum disease (also called periodontal disease), is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. These include the gums (gingiva), the tooth socket, and the periodontal ligaments.
What is the cause?
- Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria, mucous and food debris, that constantly forms on the teeth.
- Unremoved plaque hardens to form a calculus (tartar). This causes irritation and inflammation of the gums.
- Injury to the gums as with vigorous brushing can also produce gum disease. The risk of gum disease is higher in diabetes, during pregnancy and in people who maintain a poor dental hygiene.
What are the signs of gum disease?
Early gum disease is called gingivitis. This stage is usually painless. Advanced form of the disease is called periodontitis. A doctor should be consulted in case the following are observed:
- Bleeding from gums during brushing
- Red, swollen gums
- Gums that recede from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus between gums and teeth
- Loose teeth
How can gum disease be prevented?
- Brush teeth twice daily. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and change it regularly
- Flossing is recommended after meals to remove any food debris
- Anti-plaque toothpastes or mouth rinses are also useful
- Visit the dentist regularly for teeth cleaning.
What is the treatment?
- The doctor may prescribe certain tests including dental X-rays. The teeth are cleaned by the dentist to remove the deposits (scaling).
- Regular and proper brushing along with good dental hygiene are important for healthy teeth.