Gum disease is a common problem that can indicate the presence of a serious infection. Amazingly, even after all of the advances in modern medicine, over half of all adults in the UK will suffer from gum problems at some time. However, far more worrying is the fact that if you are suffering from gum disease, or periodontal disease as it is also known, it’s not just your teeth that are at risk. Although gum disease can be something people fear more from a cosmetic point of view than a medical point of view due to its unsightly disfigurement of the teeth and gums, this is a very misguided viewpoint. Latest studies have linked this disease to other serious health concerns such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and degenerative ailments. Therefore, quickly identifying the signs of gum disease is the best way to prevent the condition worsening and causing serious lasting damage.
Typically, gum disease causes your gums to become swollen, red and bleed very easily. Left untreated, it will begin to eat away at the underlying root and bone structure. Spaces between your teeth can then develop, causing your teeth to loosen. This bone damage is irreversible. Despite what the text books and standard ‘off-the-shelf’ advice will give you, a good gum disease specialist will be able to treat and reverse the disease even in its advanced stages. However, once the bone loss becomes too severe, extraction becomes the only remaining option.
Despite the severity of the conditions gum disease can lead to, many people remain completely unaware they have the disease until it is far too late. Why? Because very often, the earlier stages of gum disease do not cause any pain or discomfort at all. And the earlier symptoms, such as bleeding gums or bad breath, are something people often play down and dismiss as unimportant.
Not so. Early detection and treatment is key. Therefore, the first step in being able to successfully treat gum or periodontal disease, is to contact a gum disease expert. Why a gum disease specialist and not your regular dentist? Because your regular dentist is like a GP – expert at looking after your mouth and teeth, from a ‘generalist’ standpoint. However, if a specific ‘specialist’ problem has been detected, you should seek specialist help.
To help identify whether you may be suffering from low-level or early-stage periodontal disease, a reputable dentist should advise a gum disease screening at least once a year. If your dentist doesn’t already, be sure to ask next time you go for your regular check-up.
– When you brush your teeth, you notice the presence of a red or pink tinge on your toothbrush.
– Having a taste of blood or other peculiar tastes in your mouth
– The gums particularly the areas between your teeth become swollen, bruised or tender
– The presence of blood in your mouth or teeth, especially in the morning after waking up
– Pain or difficulties to remove food from some spots around your teeth
– Teeth become loose
– Your teeth begin to change positions or drift out of alignment
– Your gums become swollen, in some cases, pus develops around the gums
– Temperature changes cause increased teeth sensitivity
– Receding gums
As mentioned above, the early symptoms of gum disease may be easy to spot but they are all too often underplayed. So although it may be tempting to dismiss these symptoms as ‘minor’, please do not ignore them. Early detection of periodontal disease is key to its successful long-term management.
It’s important to note that these symptoms may not all occur at the same time, however, many of them manifest in the early stages of the disease. The good news is that this condition can be fully managed, and the sooner specialist gum disease treatment is started, the more successful the long-term prognosis.
How to treat signs of gum disease:
Gum disease treatment is a combination of good oral care and hygienist and dentistry measures. The exact treatment will depend on the stage of the disease. On your first visit, your periodontist will advise you on the best treatment options. However, again, beware! Do not let your dentist or periodontist talk you into surgery or having your teeth replaced, before you have explored all non-surgical options. It is much better to hang onto your own teeth for as long as possible.
Common treatment options include:
– Advising patients to observe good oral habits
– Scaling to remove plaque
– Use of anti-biotic treatments
– Tooth cleaning
– Tooth extraction or repairing bone damage
– Surgery in extreme cases
Your periodontist will be able to advice you on the correct method of gum disease treatment for you following diagnosis of the extent of damage.
Dr Peter Galgut specialises in the periodontal disease treatment and advance gum disease treatment using non-invasive and non-surgical methods. Voted Dentist of the Year in 2010 and again in 2013, he runs a private practice in Golders Green, North London.
If you would like to talk to a gum disease expert or if you would like your dentist to refer you to a periodontal specialist, please get in touch here.
Dr Galgut also runs an online ‘ask-a-periodontist’ service.