Gum Disease – Gingivitis or Periodontitis?
When you’re concerned about your gums and start researching, it quickly gets confusing, with multiple technical medical terms being used to refer to the same thing as gum disease.
The definition for gum disease is as follows
‘AGum disease is a very common condition where the gums become swollen, sore or infected. It is caused by ‘a build-up of plaque on the teeth, a sticky substance that contains bacteria.’
Gum disease is the general term used, but both gingivitis and periodontitis are words used to describe stages of gum disease.
Gingivitis describes early, mild (and reversible) gum disease, this kind is marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed or flossed. It is estimated that over half of the UK population experience some form of gingivitis, and if is not addressed by improved oral care, it can progress and develop into the more serious (non-reversible) stage of gum disease called periodontitis.
The World Health Organisation estimates 15% – 20% of middle-aged adults suffer from periodontitis. Periodontitis attacks gums, bone and the connective tissue that holds teeth in place, eventually loosening them over time to the point that they could fall out.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. That’s why it’s best to address gum issues early by following our 3 tips to combat gum disease:
1. Give Your Mouth an Improved Routine
Gum disease mainly develops when we’ve slackened on our oral care. When gum disease is in the early stage, the solution is simply upgrading your routine to reduce bacteria in your mouth. Brushing after meals, flossing and swishing with mouthwash twice daily can prevent gum disease taking hold. Also schedule regular dentist check-ups, because when plaque develops into tartar, it can only be removed with professional cleanings. Early gum disease is preventable if you swiftly take action.
2. Get a Thorough Cleaning
If sticking to improved oral health routines isn’t reversing gum disease symptoms, you likely have a more advanced infection where deep, hard-to-reach bacteria pockets have formed around the base of your teeth. A deep cleaning by our expert dentist or periodontist every 3 to 6 months is the best way to remove the calculus and most of the harmful bacteria from your mouth.
3. Visit our gum disease experts
If problems persist, antibiotics may be prescribed and further treatment may be needed to fully control the infection-causing microorganisms in your mouth.
The best way to treat gum disease is to practise good oral hygiene, although additional dental and medical treatments are sometimes necessary.
Good oral hygiene involves:
- brushing your teeth for about 2 minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and during the day after breakfast or lunch every day
- it does not matter if you use an electric or manual toothbrush, however research has shown that electric tooth brush is more effective than manual.
- Some people find it easier to clean their teeth thoroughly with an electric toothbrush
- using toothpaste that contains the right amount of fluoride, a natural mineral that helps protect against tooth decay
- flossing your teeth or using interdental brushes regularly – preferably daily, before or after brushing your teeth
- not smoking
- regularly visiting your dentist – at least once every 6 months.
Antiseptic mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine or hexetidine are available over the counter from pharmacies.
But there’s some debate about whether using mouthwash is necessary for people with healthy gums.
Mouthwashes cannot remove existing plaque. Only regular toothbrushing and flossing or interdental brushing can do this.
Your dentist may recommend using mouthwash if it helps control the build-up of plaque, the sticky substance that forms when bacteria collects on the surface of your teeth.
We will be able to advise you about which type of mouthwash is most suitable and how to use it.
Chlorhexidine mouthwash can stain your teeth brown if you use it regularly.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly between brushing your teeth and using a chlorhexidine mouthwash as some ingredients in toothpaste can prevent the mouthwash working.
You should not use a chlorhexidine mouthwash for longer than 4 weeks.
Some of the dental treatments described here may also be recommended if you have gum disease.
Scale and polish
To remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) that can build up on your teeth, we may suggest that you have your teeth scaled and polished.
This is a “professional clean” usually carried out at our dental studio by a dental hygienist.
The dental hygienist will scrape away plaque and calculus from your teeth using special instruments, then polish your teeth to remove marks or stains.
If a lot of plaque or calculus has built up, you may need to have more than 1 scale and polish.
The price of a scale and polish can vary depending on what needs to be carried out, so ask your dental hygienist how much it’ll cost beforehand.
Non-surgical periodontal treatment
In some cases of gum disease, non-surgical periodontal treatment (debridement) may be required.
This is a deep clean under the gums that removes the bacteria from the roots of your teeth.
Before having the treatment, you may need to have a local anaesthetic (painkilling medication) to numb the area.
This procedure is painless and you will experience numb lips and cheeks for aproximately 2 hours after the procedure.
You may experience some sensitivity and discomfort for up to 48 hours after having nonsurgical periodontal treatment.
If you have severe gum disease, you may need further treatment, such as periodontal surgery.
In some cases, it’s necessary to remove the affected tooth.
Ar White Rose Dental Studio we will be able to tell you about the procedure needed and how it’s carried out.
If you’re having surgical or nonsurgical treatment , you may be given antibiotics (medication to treat infections). We will tell you whether this is necessary.