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L I V E 2 4 -SE V EN GUM DI S E A S E


CAUSES, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION STOP brushing your teeth and concentrate on brushing your gums…


DID YOU KNOW? • Gum disease affects 3 out of every 4 adults over the age of 35 in the UK • Gum disease, not tooth decay, is the biggest cause of tooth loss • Gum disease isn’t just something that happens later in life, more than half of teenagers have some form of gum disease


Dr Jelley, BDS, DipDH (GDC 6280)


What is gum disease? Gum disease (periodontitis) is preceded by gum inflammation (gingivitis). Gums become inflamed when plaque builds up and irritates the gum. Plaque is soft and sticky, and can be removed with efficient cleaning, ideally with an electric toothbrush and interdental brushes. When plaque is left in the mouth for more than 24 hours, it starts to calcify and becomes hard tarter. This can only be removed with special instruments by a hygienist or dentist. Plaque and calculus irritate the gums, causing them to bleed and become inflamed.


If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis causes damage to the bone and tissues that support the teeth, causing teeth to become loose as they lose their supporting structure. Eventually, the bone loss can be to such an extent that the mobile teeth are lost.


How do I know if I have gum disease? • Bleeding gums • Sensitive teeth • Loose teeth • Persistent bad breath • Recession • Dark margins around crowns • Drifting teeth None of these symptoms should be ignored and a visit to your dentist will be able to diagnose the disease and advise the best course of treatment.


Treatment Bone loss from gum disease is irreversible, but with the correct treatment the disease can be stabilised to prevent any further loss of bone. Your dentist will take a Basic Periodontal Exam (BPE) as a screening for gum disease. The scores range from 0 – 4, with 0 indicated perfect oral health, and 4 indicating loss of bone. Scores of 3 and 4 should be investigated further and may need more intensive treatment. Periodontal treatment (as opposed to a ‘scale and polish’) would usually involve four or more appointments to treat each quadrant separately under local anaesthetic so the


Gingivitis The gums are very red and sore, they are swollen and bleed when touched or brushed. This stage can be reversed with improved homecare.


Periodontitis The gum between the teeth has become overgrown, the trian-gle ‘v’ shaped margin is no longer sharp but is rounded, swollen, very red and tarter is visible.


Treated periodontitis Notice the drifting of teeth, wide spacing, the black triangles and gum recession and exposed root surface due to advanced bone loss.


Healthy Gums This shows healthy gums. Gums that are pale pink in colour, no inflammation, a nice ‘v’ shaped margin around the teeth and gums do not bleed.


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