10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gum Disease

18 Oct 2018

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gum Disease

If you didn’t already know, gums are the pinkish soft tissue surrounding your teeth. They are important for your oral health, yet, they can become infected if not taken care of.

However, most people don’t know what causes gum (periodontal) disease or what its symptoms are until it’s too late. Gum disease is one of the most underestimated dental health issues, and many fail to understand how it can ruin one’s teeth and gums.

If you want to maintain healthy teeth from youth to old age, read this article for 10 important facts about gum diseases.

1. About 85 % of our local population have some form of gum disease

Yes, you read that right. As written on our gum disease treatment page, more than 8 out of 10 people have a form of gum disease. It sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? After all, most people don’t seem to have any issues with bleeding, swollen, or inflamed gums. That leads us to our next point…

2. Gum disease is a silent disease

The reason why gum disease often goes undetected is that it can be present despite the absence of pain or bleeding. Gum disease is often at a more advanced and difficult to treat stage once symptoms set in. (You can click here to read the symptoms of gum disease.)

Thus, dentists recommend a dental check-up at least once or twice a year. Although it may not be fun, it can allow dentists to detect any potential diseases early and ensure your oral health is good.

Aside from regular visits, you should also take care to prevent gum disease by recognising its causes.

3. Dental plaque causes gum disease

Some people may have poor flossing and tooth brushing habits (either too infrequent or using improper techniques).

This can allow dental plaque to build up on teeth. They can become hardened deposits called tartar or calculus, which cannot be removed by brushing. This build-up can eventually cause gum disease.

You can check out our article on how to prevent gum disease.

4. Bleeding gums is one of the first signs of gum disease

Bacteria multiplies within the dental plaque that builds up on teeth. This can cause an inflammatory response in the gums, such as swelling and bleeding.

That’s why we debunked the myth that you should not brush your teeth when your gums bleed. The truth is, you should do the opposite; when your gums bleed, you need to clean your teeth more thoroughly. This can help reduce the problem. And, of course, do see a dentist if you have bleeding gums! They can remove the hardened deposits that cannot be removed with brushing.

5. Gum disease has a mild and severe form

Gum diseases can be divided into the mild form called gingivitis that is reversible, and the more severe form called periodontitis which presents with irreversible loss of the bone supporting the teeth.

6. It may result in premature tooth loss.

Did you know gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults? This is because gum disease can lead to the destruction of bone and gum tissue. Bone loss is irreversible; thus, from the onset, seek to prevent gum disease from progressing into periodontitis.

7. Gum disease is not related to age

There is a common misconception that the elderly are more prone to gum disease. However, that’s not true.

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of dental plaque. Thus, anyone who does not practice good oral hygiene habits is at risk of gum disease, whether they are children or elderly.

8. Risk factors include smoking and diabetes mellitus.

Here’s another reason to quit smoking and eat healthily. People who smoke or have diabetes are at higher risk of contracting gum disease.

These factors also impact recovery time. Smoking affects your body’s ability to repair damaged gum tissue, whilst diabetes affects the body’s ability to utilise blood sugar, which can make it harder to heal from infections such as gum disease.

9. Periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease, needs long-term follow-up for life.

Currently, periodontitis can be kept at a stable state with active gum treatment and long-term follow up with optimal oral hygiene. Thus….

10. Once a patient with gum disease, always a patient with gum disease.

Following active gum treatment, in order to ensure a stable gum condition for life, patients need to maintain excellent daily oral hygiene habits, and on top of that, visit a dentist regularly to remove pathogenic microorganisms. This is to prevent recurrence of the gum disease.

Therefore, prevention is much better than cure! However, if you have gum disease, here are your treatment options.

Treatment options for gum diseases

The treatment of gum disease will depend on the severity of the disease.

In the mild form, known as gingivitis, where there is minimal to no loss of bone supporting the teeth, the treatment will be routine scaling and polishing and performing good personal oral hygiene habits. Regular 6 monthly visits to the dentist are recommended.

In the severe form of gum disease with loss of supporting bone, known as periodontitis, the treatment will be more complex.

This will include:

  • Non-surgical deep cleaning of the involved teeth under local anaesthesia.
  • Re-evaluation of the treatment outcome about two months after deep cleaning.
  • Depending on the outcome, further treatment may be required ranging from surgical intervention to antibiotics for the unresolved tooth sites. In cases with a good outcome, the patient will be placed on an individualised maintenance programme with a prescribed time interval.
  • Good personal oral hygiene habit is an essential part of the whole therapy.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped inspire you to maintain good oral health. By preventing gum disease, you can enjoy a better quality of life and ensure that your teeth remain intact.

This is important because gum disease can cause irreversible bone loss, make you susceptible to continual inflammation, or even lead to tooth loss. Thus, share this article with your friends and families and help them prevent gum disease too!

If you want a routine checkup or treatment for gum disease, book an appointment with our friendly dentists now. Our goal is to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums every day.

Get more help with your gum problems

Book an appointment with Dr Tan Wah Ching to check your gums or get treatment.

About Author

Dr Tan Wah Ching

She is a Specialist Periodontist registered with the Singapore Dental Council; a Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore; a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons; a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, a member of the Society of Periodontology (Singapore) and an ITI fellow. She currently serves as the ITI study club director in Singapore.

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Incorporated in 2005, Singapore Medical Group (SMG) is a private specialist and primary healthcare provider with a network of more than 20 medical specialties. The Group is committed to its promise of providing patient centred medical care and experience to every individual. SMG has 35 clinics and a growing network of SMG Associates all across the island.

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