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Periodontal Disease Symptoms

Do your gums bleed?

"I had a host of questions and Dr Bose answered them all with patience and understanding" - Mr R.B. BSc (Hons), MIET, CEng

Normal gum looks pink and healthy. When gums are inflamed with gingivitis they become red and swollen.

Very often the only symptom of gingivitis will be bleeding when brushing your teeth. It is very important if your gums are bleeding to clean them more thoroughly, not less, ensuring that you brush every surface of the tooth and clean in between the teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to do this.

In periodontal disease when pocketing has occurred around the tooth there may be no symptoms at all until the teeth eventually become loose in the jawbone.

The symptoms of progressive gum disease can be difficult to recognise yourself, so it is important to see your dentist or hygienist on a regular basis to ensure that your teeth are clean and all calculus (scale) has been removed. Your dentist will also check how well you are cleaning your teeth and show you how to clean any areas you are missing.


Causes

When plaque builds up on the teeth, the bacteria in it produces toxins, which irritate the tissues surrounding the teeth, the gums, the periodontal ligament and the bone, causing gum disease.

Dental plaque is a sticky film, which is constantly forming on your teeth. It contains many bacteria some of whose waste products irritate the gum tissue. The bacteria in plaque become more organised and produce more of these harmful toxins if the plaque is not removed regularly.

It is important to remove plaque from the teeth thoroughly twice a day. This is best carried out by thorough brushing with a fluoride containing toothpaste and cleaning in between the teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to tell you whether you are cleaning your teeth properly and advise you on how to clean any areas you are missing.

If plaque is not thoroughly removed, salts from the saliva cause it to become hard and form scale or dental calculus. This cannot be removed by normal brushing and will need to be removed by your dentist or hygienist during a scale and polish. The calculus is rough and causes plaque to accumulate more rapidly increasing the problem.

If your teeth are uneven or crowded they may be more difficult to clean properly and if you have an uneven bite (malocclusion), certain teeth may be put under more strain, making gum disease more likely.
If calculus is not removed regularly a pocket may form between the gum and the tooth, which is impossible for you to clean properly.

As the pocket gets deeper and periodontal disease progresses, the tissue that covers the tooth roots (cementum) may become infected and need to be removed by deep scaling or root planning under a local anaesthetic.

You are more likely to get gum disease if you smoke cigarettes, have a suppressed immune system (due to treatments such as chemotherapy, or conditions such as HIV), or if you have diabetes or osteoporosis.

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