What is a gum disease?
Gum related issues occur when good oral hygiene is not maintained, this leads to plaque build-up, which is a thin sticky layer of bacteria that accumulates on the teeth. Over time if not taken care of plaque will eventually irritate your gums causing redness with bleeding, swelling, and soreness. If the condition worsens then the gums tend to move away from the teeth, opening gaps putting your teeth at greater risk for infection. If not treated, the bones, gums and the tissue supporting the teeth can be damaged, eventually causing tooth loss. In most cases plaque accumulation is the most common cause for gum-related issues, however sometimes it could also be due to hormonal changes, weakened immune system or even family history can be a factor contributing to gum disease.
However, there are a lot of misconceptions/myths around gum diseases that most people are not aware of and therefore it is crucial to understand them to reduce the potential implications of untreated gum disease.
Bleeding gums isn’t that a big problem
This is the most common misconception most people have. In fact, bleeding gums is a sign that your gums are under the attack by germs causing bleeding from the tissue around the teeth. It is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, medication, stress or genetics. The medical terminology bleeding gums is gingivitis and it is the first stage of gum disease along with bad breath or swollen gums. It is normally a painless condition and hence there is a tendency for people to ignore it. Bleeding gums usually happen due to inadequate plaque removal and the easiet treatment for bleeding gums is prevention. If there is swelling of gums or regular bleeding while brushing, then it is important that you see the dentist immediately. The treament for bleeding gums will involve cleaning process called root planing and scaling and in some cases your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to help fight infection.
Gum disease occurs to those who have cavities and have poor oral hygiene
Being cavity-free and having proactive oral hygiene still does not ensure you that your gums are not prone to gum related diseases. This is primarily because gum disease is usually painless, and most people have no idea that their gums are having issues. Another important thing to note is research has shown globally upto 30% of the population could be genetically prone to gum disease. Other contributing factors to gum diseases could be use of tobacco, poor diet, and even stress.
Gum infections are minor problems
According to research conducted in the US, gum infections/disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the US. Gum diseases are not to be considered as a trivial matter. Ideally in a healthy mouth the gums are meant to fit tightly over your teeth with slight gap between the teeth and it should not bleed while brushing and flossing. The problem occurs when the brush doesn’t reach the grooves or tiny spaces between the teeth and this can lead to plaque and tartar formation, allowing the bacteria to intrude into the gums. This is why it is recommended to visit your dentist once every six months for a professional clean. Your dentsit can help you remove any plaque and tartar formation, saving your gums from bleeding, becoming red, and swollen. If not dealt at the right time the space/gaps can deepen, giving the bacteria more room to attack your teeth and cause serious gum infection. This can cause bone loss to bone that is meant to support your teeth and even tooth loss.
Treatment for gum related problems will be painful
The good news is advancements in the field of dentistry have made dental treatments less painful. With the advent of conscious sedation, dental treatments have now become relaxing and anxiety-free experience for people who are afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care. Another tool that you should ask your dentist is for soft tissue laser treatment. Laser technology for soft tissue surgery has evolved over time and laser-based treatments holds great promise in dentistry as it works great in targeting gum-related problems. It is really effective in root planning and assists in bacterial reduction and disinfecting. Lasers are also used for scaling, aiding in removal of tartar and plaque from the root surfaces.
Ultra modern laser technology can also help in the following ways:
• Greatly reduces pain, making it comfortable for patients to undergo dental treatments
• Offers dentists accuracy and precision in procedures
• Minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissues
• Lasers help in clotting the exposed blood vessels and reduces blood loss, enabling dentists to perform bloodless procedure and causing diminished swelling
• Accelerates wound healing
• Gives patients protection against primary and secondary infections
It is good to remember to practice good oral hygiene techinques like brushing and flossing twice a day, additionally also avoiding the use of tobaco and products that are high in sugar and lastly visit your dentist atleast once in six months. Follow these easy to do things and you can keep gums related problems at bay. —[email protected]
Dr Prashant Abhishek is Specialist Dental Surgeon and Endodontist at Wassan Specialty Dental Center. Visit wassandental.com