If you have tooth decay, gum disease or some other dental problem, there are plenty of clues. But one of the most common is something that patients are always reluctant to discuss. While toothache, inflammation or bleeding are easy to discuss, it can be embarrassing to talk about bad breath or halitosis. But to a dentist, this is just another symptom that can help identify a root cause. So let’s take a deep breath and face halitosis head-on.
Causes of Gum Disease
The human mouth can be a hazardous place. Teeth and gums are constantly exposed to mucus, bacteria and food particles. These come together to form tartar around the gumline of the teeth, and this, in turn, becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Gradually, if left unchecked, the gums pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that also become infected.
If you have diabetes, are on prescription medication or are pregnant, this places you at greater risk of gum disease. Smoking also increases the likelihood of gum disease coming about.
The Difference Between Gum Disease and Gingivitis
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be successfully treated at home. See our page on gingivitis for more advice on this. If left unchecked, gingivitis can develop into a more severe form of gum disease that can damage the bone that supports your teeth.
Recognising the Signs of Gum Disease
There are some giveaway signs of gum disease, which include the following:
- Gums prone to bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Sore or tender gums
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Gaps developing between your teeth
- Teeth getting loose
- Tenderness in the gums
Treatments for Gum Disease
If you think you have gum disease, it is vital that you contact your dentist without delay; brushing and flossing every day helps prevent the onset of gum disease in the first place, but once it has started to develop under the gum line, these methods will not remove it.
Your dentist will use a unique cleaning method called scaling to remove all plaque, whether it is below or above the gum line. This will eliminate the bacteria and give the infection a chance to heal. However, if the bone has been damaged, this is not reversible. That’s why it is essential to react quickly to signs of periodontal disease.
Once the gum disease has cleared up, you will need to maintain good dental hygiene habits to reduce the likelihood of it returning. Also, make sure you have regular check-ups and see the hygienist. That way, any issues can be resolved quickly before they have time to take hold and become severe.