Gum disease is a serious condition which if left untreated can potentially lead to the loss of teeth, along with all the distress and implications for your day to day life that come with it. It is also, when caught early, fairly simple to treat. Even better, it is easy to prevent gum disease happening in the first place.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is the result of a bacterial infection and/or a build-up of plaque around the teeth, the soft tissue of the gums and the underlying bones. In the early stages of the disease it is only the soft tissue which is affected – this is called gingivitis. The first signs of gingivitis are red and slightly swollen, sore gums, which can bleed when you brush your teeth. Your teeth may also become increasingly sensitive at this point.
Left untreated this can progress to the more serious periodontitis. This is often characterised by the appearance of gaps between the gums and the teeth (often referred to as receding gums) owing to the loss of tissue and bone due to infection. You may have bad breath and notice an increase in bleeding when brushing your teeth. If periodontitis is allowed to progress it can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Steps to Take to Prevent Gum Disease
In common with many other health issues, the way to keep your teeth and gums in perfect order starts with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
Oral Hygiene is Important
Good oral hygiene starts with regular brushing; twice a day is best to prevent decay. Flossing between the teeth is helpful but make sure you don’t place too much pressure on the gumline. The toothbrush you use and the way you brush affects the teeth and gums. Electric or battery-driven toothbrushes which have smaller, round brush heads are best for ensuring you get to every part of your teeth. They also help to prevent you from brushing too hard which can often be a cause of damage to gums and teeth. Specialist mouthwashes are available and your dentist in Stockport can advise you on which ones to use.
Should I Avoid Certain Food?
Unfortunately for those with a sweet tooth the short answer to this is yes and the most obvious culprit is sugary food and drinks. Sugar is the fuel which feeds the bacteria in your mouth and in doing so increases the incidence of cavities, tooth damage and ultimately gum disease. So, things like biscuits, cake, chocolate and sweets should be limited as far as possible. Mints and chewing gum including the so-called sugar-free versions should also be avoided. Sugary drinks, including high energy drinks should also be limited if not avoided altogether. Acidic foods like citrus fruits and drinks, fermented and pickled foods, coffee and tea can also damage or stain tooth enamel.
Cold food and drinks whilst not being the cause of gum disease can aggravate any sensitivity of the teeth and gums so it is advisable to avoid things like ice-cream, ice lollipops and fizzy drinks if you already have sensitive gums and teeth.
Smoking is also frequently a factor in the development of gum disease and periodontitis. Smoking contributes to the production of dental plaque, one of the building blocks of gum disease. Additionally, smoking curtails the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which prevents the proper healing of infected gums. Of course, smoking is also one of the things most likely to leave your teeth badly stained.
By far the best way to prevent gum disease is to make regular visits to your dentist. They can not only advise on your dental care but can spot problems at the early stages and offer treatment options.