Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a common condition that affects the soft tissue and, eventually the bone, that supports the teeth. It is one of the most prominent oral health issues but is often preventable.

The best way to reduce your chances of developing periodontitis is to understand the causes, improve your oral hygiene practices, and be aware of the signs of gum disease.


The Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease usually starts due to plaque, a sticky bacterial film that coats the teeth when starches and sugars from eating are not removed through brushing and flossing. If plaque is left on the teeth, it can harden beneath the gum line. This is known as tartar and has to be removed by your dentist with a professional dental cleaning.

Over time plaque and tartar cause damage to your teeth and can irritate and inflame the gums. This is the beginning of gum disease and, if left untreated, it can cause pockets to develop between the teeth and the gums. These pockets fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria and become infected, affecting both your general and oral health.

Although poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of gum disease, these factors make people more vulnerable to developing it:

  • Smoking
  • Age (gum disease is common in older people)
  • Pregnancy (hormonal shifts make pregnant women more vulnerable to plaque)
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system (From conditions such as HIV or treatment like chemotherapy)
  • Stress
  • Malnutrition 
  • Recreational drug use
  • Dry mouth
  • Genetics


What are the Dangers of Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease has severe implications for your oral health and can result in tooth and bone loss. However, it can also damage other aspects of your health if a long-term infection makes its way into the bloodstream. Advanced periodontitis has been linked to multiple serious conditions, including:


Early Signs of Gum Disease

advanced signs of gum disease croydonThe first stage of gum disease, an inflammation of the gums, is called gingivitis. This is a non-destructive periodontal disease, but it can develop into more serious periodontitis if left untreated. Gingivitis is not always painful, so it can be easy not to realise you have it. The initial symptoms typically include gums that are:

  • Bleeding (usually after brushing or flossing your teeth)
  • Swollen
  • Red 
  • Tender 

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist; they will advise on how to tackle this issue to prevent the disease from progressing. Regular dental check-ups are an essential part of spotting issues such as gum disease. Effective preventative dentistry requires patients to visit their dentist approximately every six months.


Advanced Signs of Gum Disease

Untreated gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis. This is a severe condition that affects the tissues and bones that support the teeth and eventually leads to tooth loss. 

The earlier you spot it, the better your chances of treating the condition successfully, so it’s essential to be aware of the symptoms, mainly if you have been diagnosed with gingivitis in the past. These advanced signs of gum disease include:

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Red or purple gums
  • Sore gums
  • Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
  • Gum abscesses, pus that develops under the gums or teeth
  • Loose or mobile teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • New spaces between your teeth
  • Receding gums, making your teeth look longer than normal
  • A change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together)


How to Prevent Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is to maintain good dental hygiene practices throughout your life. This means thoroughly brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily. It’s a good idea to floss before you brush, as this means you will brush away any debris you loosen through flossing.

It is also imperative that you visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. This is particularly pertinent if you are at risk for developing gum disease, for instance, if you suffer from dry mouth. This will help you avoid periodontics and improve your overall oral health.


Consult a Dentist If You Suspect Gum Disease

Although many people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life, it is often preventable simply by improving oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly. Unfortunately, many people are nervous about going to the dentist or suffer from dental anxiety, which discourages them from attending dental appointments.

At Dental Spot, we believe in the value of preventative dentistry and encourage all our patients to attend their appointments with our skilled and friendly team. 

Call us today on (02) 9158 6115 to book an initial consultation and reduce your chances of developing gum disease.

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