How healthy are your gums? The reason we ask you this question is that gum disease may be something that has never crossed your mind. Why should it? If your gums have never caused you any pain, you would assume this must mean they are healthy.
In my work as one of the dental hygienists at Smile Solutions, a key role is to educate people about the causes of gum disease and its prevalence. Some patients are certainly already very knowledgeable about the disease, as they may have experienced it or been screened and educated about it in the past. But I find that it is a completely foreign concept for some of the new patients I see.
Disease of the gums is something that affects a surprisingly large proportion of the population, whether it be in its less severe form, gingivitis, or its more severe form of chronic periodontitis. There are varying degrees of severity of the different types, and often the primary cause is poor oral hygiene.
There can also be some other secondary factors that may influence whether a person is susceptible. Risk factors for disease of the gums may include: smoking; pregnancy; the presence of other systemic diseases such as diabetes; medications which may have side-affects in the oral cavity, such as dry mouth; compromised immunity; or even genetics. And often more than one factor comes into play.
The most influential factor that I see associated with the presence of gum disease and gingivitis is poor oral hygiene.
The buildup of the plaque and tartar around the gum line, which is home to enormous amounts of bacteria, is the most concerning risk factor. It also happens to be something that is relatively easy to reduce with the correct technique and guidance from a dental professional.
The common symptom to look out for healthy are your gums is bleeding from the gums when you brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
It is very important that you are gentle when brushing your teeth and gums; a dental professional can show you how to do this effectively. If you notice bleeding from your gums when brushing or when you spit out your toothpaste, then we strongly suggest you seek an assessment of your gum health.
We encourage everybody to have their gums checked by a dentist or a dental hygienist. It is an integral part of a dental appointment and a comprehensive examination is not complete without having the gums assessed. It is important to note that this kind of oral disease can be difficult for you as there is often minimal discomfort.
It is also often a chronic disease that may take many years to progress, so it is sometimes difficult for people to notice changes in their gum health.
So if gum disease and gingivitis have never crossed your mind and you are not aware of having had your gums screened before, a visit to a dental hygienist will let you know for certain.
Remember that disease of the gums usually gets worse with time, so the longer you leave it, the more serious it may become.