We hear a lot of patients saying their gums have always bled, assuming it is normal. Unfortunately it’s not. If you were to bleed from your eyes or your nose, you wouldn’t think it was normal and neither is it normal to bleed from your gums. It is a sign that something is wrong, please don’t ignore it.
Throughout my career I have seen some pretty extreme cases of gum disease that have resulted in partial or total loss of teeth. The sad fact is that, with earlier intervention, the outcome could have been very different.
Gum disease or periodontal disease as it is otherwise known, occurs in response to the build up of bacterial plaque. Plaque starts to accumulate on the tooth surface soon after tooth brushing. Unless it is regularly disturbed by thorough tooth brushing and cleaning between the teeth, toxins produced by the bacterial plaque cause an inflammation within the soft part of the gum know as gingivitis. Good oral hygiene supplemented by professional cleaning by your dentist or hygienist is all that is required to treat gingivitis, however changes in the funding of dentistry and the loss of the school dentist has meant that many have never had the benefit of oral health advice and lack the skills to care for their teeth and gums, with a worrying number of individuals in the UK suffering from more serious forms of gum disease.
The persistence of chronic gingivitis can, in certain individuals, lead to more serious form of gum disease known as “periodontitis”. This is an irreversible loss of the supporting structure surrounding our teeth and in severe cases tooth loss may occur. Gum disease may be associated with bleeding when brushing and bad breath (halitosis), however in many instances, periodontitis is a symptomless condition and may only become a apparent when our dentist or hygienist tell us or when our teeth start to drift or become wobbly, at which time it may be too late.
Contrary to popular belief, tooth loss from gum disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging and with preventative care and timely intervention teeth for life should be our goal. In most instances appropriate treatment and with recent advances in regenerative technology, it is possible to arrest and in certain instances reverse the loss of bone due to periodontal destruction.
Scientists now believe that gum disease may not be confined to just the mouth, but may be associated with other common inflammatory systemic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc. So by ignoring our oral health we may be jeopardising more than just our teeth.
Please don’t wait until it is too late, whether you have concerns that you may have a problem or not, ensure you attend for an oral health assessment so that we can keep smiles for life.
Dr Wendy Cole has recently joined The Smile Spa in Stockton-on-Tees, where she is a dental surgeon. Her interest lies in Periodontics and regularly lectures on the subject. Wendy also provides sedation for anxious patients. To book your consultation with Wendy call 01642 674 888