Gum Disease - Silent and Deadly

Healthy Gums & Healthy Teeth

Dental Ads these days appear to be preoccupied with your smile; Dental websites all have “smile galleries” with “Hollywood smiles” looking out at you.  The focus is very much on the teeth.  But just think for one moment; Healthy Gums & Healthy Teeth go together.  What would you look like with a big wide smile showing teeth with receding, swollen or bleeding gums and big black spaces between the teeth?  These characteristics are all signs of gum disease. Not a pretty sight!  In fact, it could be the warning photo on the side of a cigarette pack!

While you protect your teeth from decay by cleaning with fluoride toothpaste, what do you do to prevent gum disease?  Brushing is a start but what do you aim to achieve when you brush?   The truth is that most people think that they are just cleaning the part of the teeth they can see in their mouth.  But that’s not true!

The aim of tooth-brushing…

What you should aim to do is to remove the thin film of bacteria and protein called dental plaque from the surface of all the teeth; not just where you can see, but also under the gum margins around the entire circumference of each and every tooth, particularly in between the teeth. Now that doesn’t take just 2 minutes, does it?  Which brings me on to a question; how long does it take to brush your teeth?  In a survey, it was reported that over 90% of people brush for less than 3 minutes.  It’s just not long enough to do it thoroughly.

Having stirred you up to think about cleaning, just take a moment to consider what happens when the bacterial film remains undisturbed under the gum margin.

Keeping the gum disease story simple it goes like this…

  1. The bacteria eat food and produce chemicals,
  2. Some of the chemicals are highly toxic to the gums leading to inflammation known as Gingivitis.
  3. In the majority of people (87% of people), this situation can persist for a long time called “stable gingivitis
  4. In others, (13% of people) the inflammation becomes destructive and spreads from the soft gum towards the bone leading to bone destruction where the bone is gradually eroded away reducing the bone support for the tooth.  This is called Chronic PeriodontitisThis is a destructive condition that can lead to tooth loss.

The result of this disease progression is loose and infected teeth, abscesses, bad breath and ultimately tooth loss.

Preventing this disease and tooth loss…

The best approach is a preventive one by removing plaque effectively and regularly and avoiding the development of inflammation that leads to gum disease.  Good cleaning can only be learnt after detailed instruction and practice.  As my hygienist always says, “you only need to clean the teeth you want to keep”.  Teeth that remain covered in plaque are destined for early loss.

Gum disease and how it relates to general health…

Gum disease has become the focus of much attention in the medical profession in recent years involving GPs, Endocrinologists, Obstetricians and Cardiologists.  There is a great deal of research data available that clearly demonstrates that there is a link between a history of destructive gum disease (Periodontitis) and a number of systemic diseases.  The control of diabetes will be greatly impaired if a diabetic has gum disease, and if that gum disease is successfully treated then their diabetic control will improve as a result.  There is also evidence that shows that there is a higher incidence of premature birth and the birth of low birth weight babies in women who suffer from Periodontitis.  Potentially the most serious links appear to be between gum disease and the likelihood of suffering from a stroke or coronary artery disease.

Some important points…

  • Gum disease is entirely preventable and even if it is present it is entirely treatable.
  • Bleeding gums are not normal.
  • Bleeding from the gums when you brush or floss is not normal.
  • Long-term gum disease may put you at risk from far more serious general medical conditions that can be severe or even life threatening.
  • Treatment for gum disease is easy and effective.
  • It’s cheaper and easier to prevent gum disease than to treat it.
  • Gum disease is the responsibility of the patient and with a reasonable standard of home care, you can avoid all the problems this disease causes.
  • Your dentist can diagnose gum disease only by gentle probing and more advanced gum disease will be noticed on dental X-rays.
  • If you don’t attend a dental practice for checks, you run a far higher risk of not being diagnosed until it is late on in the disease process and teeth may have to be lost.
  • If you smoke, you are far more likely to suffer destructive gum disease.
  • If you smoke you are more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung disease, bad breath, but that’s usually not news to smokers but they still smoke!

contact the friendly team at NQ Surgical Dentistry today on (07) 4725 1656 or call in to see us at 183 Kings Rd, Pimlico QLD 4812

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