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Periodontal Disease—Could You Be at Risk?

A major cause of tooth decay and tooth loss is periodontal (gum) disease. But what causes gum disease? How do you know if you've got it, and how can your cosmetic dentist help to treat the problem?

Read on for more information.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in your mouth that can attack your gums, causing inflammation, damage to the bone, and eventually, the loss of your teeth.

Oral bacteria form a slimy film over the teeth, called "plaque". If allowed to accumulate, plaque causes tooth decay. The bacteria moves underneath the gum line to attack the tooth roots and, in doing so, cause the onset of periodontal disease.

How Can You Recognise Periodontal Disease?

If you are a smoker, you may be unaware that you have gum disease, as the smell of smoke can disguise some of the signs. Gum disease is typically accompanied by a number of tell-tale red flags, including:

  • inflammation, swelling or reddening of the gums
  • bad breath (halitosis)
  • bleeding gums
  • sensitive gums
  • gums receding

If you notice any of the above symptoms or find that one or more of your teeth has become loose, you may be suffering from periodontal disease.

How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?

Much of the treatment of periodontal disease is preventative. Your gums should remain healthy if you keep your mouth free from bacteria. Brush your teeth at least twice daily, floss once a day, and use an antibacterial mouthwash.

Your dentist may recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist once every couple of weeks until the condition is under control. Initially, a professional clean will help to get rid of tartar and serious accumulations of calcified plaque on the tooth roots.

If you smoke, you should try to quit. You should also change your diet to ensure that you don't eat too many sugary foods, as this can encourage the development of plaque.

In cases of severe periodontal disease, your regular dentist may recommend that you have surgery. Surgical treatments can involve the use of plastic-surgery techniques to repair damaged soft and bony tissues, enabling the replacement of missing teeth with dental implants. You may be referred to a specialist cosmetic dentist for remedial and reparative treatment if your teeth have been badly damaged.

Once your gums are back in good health, you will probably need to see your dentist for regular check-ups following treatment.

If you think that you may have signs of gum disease, consult your dentist without delay. Early diagnosis and treatment could save your teeth!