Gum disease and decay are the two main causes of tooth loss.
Gingivitis is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth and is caused by a build-up of plaque. Symptoms may include:
- gums that bleed easily
- red, swollen or tender gums
- bad breath
- bad taste in your mouth
However, it may also be symptom-free and so it is important to take regular appointments with your dentist who can identify the early signs.
Factors that put you at risk of developing gingivitis:
- poor oral hygiene practices
- crooked teeth that are difficult to clean
- medications, including steroids, certain anti-epilepsy medications, some calcium channel blockers and the oral contraceptive pill
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic gingivitis can often lead to periodontitis. Peridontitis is the loss of tissue and bone that support your teeth. Over time, if left untreated, the disease can progress and result in loose teeth and their eventual loss.
Treatment methods for periodontitis involve deeper cleaning with local anesthetic by your dentist/ hygienist. In some cases, we may need to refer a patient to a periodontist (gum specialist). During all dental exams, we check for the onset of gum disease. We will alert you if any signs are identified and advise you on corrective measures.
Bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis but there are a number of other potential causes.
- When you begin to floss, your gums may bleed but this will soon diminish as you continue to floss regularly, removing the bacteria under the gum line which is causing infection in the gums.
- Pregnancy may cause gingivitis due to increased hormone levels.
- If you take blood thinners, such as Warfarin, you may have an increased tendency to bleeding gums. Seek professional advice if this continues.
- If you brush too hard, you may cause your gums to bleed. Use soft or extra-soft toothbrushes.