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What Is Gum Disease?

There are three basic states anyone’s gum tissues can be in, technically they are: healthy, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis are types of gum disease classified by their severity and potential to return to the ‘healthy’ state. Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) is a bacterial infection of the gum tissues.

Gingivitis is noticed first by some bleeding when brushing and/or flossing. The gums may feel a bit swollen and tender when cleaning. The damage is reversible through thorough cleaning. Periodontitis is more severe and can include signs like recession (loss of gum and bone tissue) and wobbly (mobile) teeth. There may be a bad taste in your mouth and sometimes spontaneous bleeding. The damage to the gum tissues is unfortunately irreversible in this instance but can be managed through general and sometimes specialist dental care.

When you attend your routine clean appointment with a Dental Hygienist there are several diagnostic procedures they carry out in order to assess what state your gums may be in. Looking at the gums, probing the gum tissue to assess pocketing, bleeding and recession; as well as assessing the plaque accumulation around the teeth is all part of the diagnostic process.

The way to prevent gum disease is relatively simple. Brushing twice daily for at least two minutes – focusing on the gum line with a gentle massaging pressure, flossing at least once daily – trying to get the floss at least a millimetre or two under the gum-line. Lifestyle choices such as not smoking and managing systemic conditions such as diabetes carefully also reduce the risk of gum disease. Most importantly, visiting the dentist for regular check ups (including x-rays to assess bone levels) and the hygienist for cleans at least twice a year to make sure you are cleaning correctly and are disease free!

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