This is a problem which affects large numbers of people. Like many other diseases, the cause of gum disease is bacteria and, as with other bacterial infections, different people have different levels of resistance and immunity to them. The bacteria live in dental plaque, a clear sticky film which constantly forms on the teeth, and the key to preventing gum disease is the effective removal of plaque every day.
Gum disease is more correctly known as periodontal disease, because it affects not just the gums but the complete tooth supporting structure, including the bone underneath the gum. Often it occurs in otherwise healthy individuals, causing little or no pain. Sometimes, the swelling and inflammation that are the symptoms of periodontitis can only be detected by a dentist or dental hygienist. In serious cases, the bone gets eaten away to the point where the teeth may begin to move and spaces start to appear between them. Eventually, they may loosen and fall out. There is increasing evidence to show a link between periodontitis and other diseases of the body, including diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
It is important that you should know the warning signs of periodontitis. They are:
- The gums are tender and bleed easily when you brush your teeth
- The gum line has receded making the teeth look longer
- The teeth have moved slightly and there are spaces between the teeth
- A lot of visible tartar on the teeth
- One or more teeth feels loose
- Bad breath