Gum damage is principally caused by a progressive, yet avoidable dental condition known as periodontal disease. You may hear it referred to as gingivitis, gum disease or periodontitis too, and these names all relate to a specific stage of the condition. Gingivitis is used to describe it in its earliest forms while periodontitis is generally used when the issue has become severe.
Periodontal disease occurs when plaque that has been allowed to form on the teeth as a result of poor oral hygiene begins to spread onto the surrounding gum tissue. The bacteria contained within the plaque cause inflammation and soreness. Most people have some degree of gum disease, but it can usually be reversed if it is tackled early on. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to infection within the gum, jaw bone deterioration, gum damage and in particular, gum recession. Patients with advanced periodontal disease are also more likely to develop chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure amongst others.
Symptoms of gum damage caused by periodontal disease
Although it is possible to have gum damage and have no obvious symptoms, there are usually a number of signs that are present that indicate that there is a problem developing. These include:
- Red, swollen and tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing your teeth, flossing or eating hard foods
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
- Teeth that seem loose
Preventing and reversing gum damage
The good news is that there are proactive steps that can be taken to both prevent and reverse gum damage. Some of the best ways to prevent gum damage from occurring or for reversing it in its earliest stages include the following:
- Maintain a robust oral hygiene routine: brush after meals, floss daily and use a fluoride toothpaste
- Replace your toothbrush regularly and choose a soft-bristled variety that won’t damage your gums
- Limit your sugar intake
- Refrain from smoking since smokers are significantly more likely to suffer from gum disease
- Visit your dentist for a professional clean every six months
However, if your gum disease has progressed beyond the earliest stages and you are experiencing gum recession, which is when the soft tissue pulls away from the edge of the teeth, you may need to consider more invasive treatments. Seeking treatment is important since not only do the gums help you to retain your teeth, but the gaps created by gum recession are havens for further bacteria growth which can fuel the progression of your periodontitis.
Soft tissue grafts are a common treatment option for patients who have receding gums. This involves taking soft tissue from another part of their body usually the palate, which is the roof of the mouth, and grafting it onto the parts of the gums that require additional tissue. This is a fairly invasive process and you will need to allow several weeks for your gums to heal properly. Alternatively, there is a newer treatment, known as the Chao Pinhole technique, which is less invasive and involves the manipulation of gum tissue to cover the gaps.
Exactly how to reverse your gum damage will depend on the extent of your periodontal disease and your individual circumstances. Our knowledgeable dental team will be able to advise you which treatments are most appropriate for you. Please get in touch with us to schedule your appointment.