Have you been battling swollen gums? They are more than an eyesore and an irritant, and in some severe cases, could lead not only to loss of teeth, but serious long-term health problems if it develops into Gum Disease.
Let’s be clear though, Gum Disease is largely preventable. It begins, in most instances, as a mild infection such as gingivitis, which is commonly defined by gums that are red, inflamed, and easily irritated by brushing or eating. When plaque accumulates on the teeth, it breeds bacteria, which can cause infection, which in turn causes your immune system to fight back by breaking down both the bacteria and the tissue holding your teeth in place. At advanced stages, called “periodontal disease,” patients can end up not only without teeth, but with serious problems with the jawbone.
Do I need to see a Dentist for Gum Disease?
Sometimes, you might have an oral issue that requires attention, but be unable to see a dentist right away. In this situation, try to do what you can at home to address the problem. In the case of a suspected gum infection, there are several actions you can take to find relief and prevent escalation of the condition:
Identify the first signs of gum disease. One of the first indicators is a change from light pink gums to puffy red ones. If you miss this sign, the next most likely one of bleeding during brushing or flossing will likely alert you to a present infection.
Continue brushing your teeth at least twice a day once a gum issue is known. Be careful not to push too hard while cleaning your teeth and mouth, and always use a soft bristled toothbrush.
Floss twice a day to help keep a gum infection from worsening. Again, take care to treat your mouth tenderly by not using too much force as you remove debris.
Rinse with a mouthwash that kills mouth bacteria. Choose a rinse that does not contain alcohol that will burn your sore gums. Also, rinse occasionally with warm salt water that will soothe and help your mouth to heal.
Eat a nutritious diet, and avoid foods that contain lots of sugar. Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day.
Take paracetamol or other over-the-counter medication for pain associated with gum issues.
Stop smoking. Tobacco use is especially harmful to your oral health and can escalate infection in your gums.
The prevention of Gum Disease might look a lot like how to deal with the initial signs as outlined above, but remember, what is outlined below should constitute your ongoing habitus and attitude toward dental hygiene. Prevention is the only cure for this uncomfortable disease.
To help prevent swollen gum disease, we recommend the following steps:
Brush and Floss: The best known preventative technique for gum disease is to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily. You don’t need an expensive toothbrush, as research has found that manual or electric makes little difference, and waxed or threader floss is a matter of personal preference. They all serve the same purpose, which is to reduce sticky plaque buildup and the irritation and infections it creates.
Get A Check Up: Your dentist should notice right away if you have red, inflamed gums, but it’s reassuring if only to confirm what you’re already seeing in the mirror every morning. Besides that, regular dentist check ups help to deep clean the buildup of plaque and tartar. If you have concerns, twice-annual dental cleanings are the time to voice them.
Kick Bad Habits: Smoking is not your teeth’s favourite pastime. Take up fishing instead. The same for drinking. Smoking and heavy drinking help you run a significantly higher risk of oral cancers and gum problems.
Avoid Sugar: Like the humans it feeds on, bacteria loves sugar, thrives on sugar, and causes as much damage to the mouth as it does the liver, eyes, and brain. Avoid the sweets and stick with real food – vegetables, fruit, whole grains and meat.
And last, but definitely not least, Rinse!: Studies show that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide and Listerine, or chlorhexidine mouthwash, can significantly reduce plaque, thus preventing gingivitis and gum disease.
Here are five things to remember as you add (or maintain) rinsing to your oral care routine.
Choose the right kind of mouthwash. Some will only freshen your breath but not get rid of the bacteria that are causing problems to begin with. In order to get full protection, use a therapeutic mouthwash. Given all the products on the market, choosing the right one can be confusing, but there is an effective shortcut. Look for the Australian Dental Association’s seal of approval, as it will only approve products that work.
Brush and floss before you use mouthwash. That way you’ll get rid of plaque and any oral debris, clearing the way for the mouthwash to be most effective.
Use the right amount of mouthwash. The correct dosage will be on the label, but it should be around 20 ml (4 teaspoons), which is probably more than you would think to use.
Swish for the full recommended time, usually 30 seconds to a minute. Use a stopwatch the first time you rinse to see if you are rinsing long enough. If it is uncomfortable using a therapeutic mouthwash for at least 30 seconds, then start with 10 seconds and build up to the full amount of time in ten-second increments. The mouthwash only works in your mouth – not in the medicine cabinet – so be kind to yourself and take the time you need to work rinsing into your routine.
Finally, mouthwash will have a longer effect if you don’t rinse your mouth out after using it. However, it’s your choice. It’s better to use mouthwash and rinse than not to use it at all.
If you’re reading this a little too late, you may already have Gum Disease, and be requiring a treatment plan. Unfortunately, at the later stages of Gum Disease, you will need ongoing treatment and diligent teeth cleaning behaviour to prevent it getting worse, as there is no cure.
The good news is that we have compiled some key information for those facing the daunting task of researching the best treatment for Gum Disease.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may require one or more treatments. For many, surgery will not be necessary, and the road to recovery begins with behavioral changes.
Perhaps, over the course of your life, you have fallen victim to poor brushing or flossing, which has become a habit. You may have an active sweet tooth, or be a frequent user of tobacco or alcohol. Be prepared to give your dentist a full account of the behaviours that may have had contributed to your gum disease. That way, they can determine the impact of these behaviours, and work with you on implementing more orally hygienic practices into your daily routine.
In-Office Cleaning and Evaluation
Calcified plaque, or tartar, cannot be dealt with at home. The bacteria glued to your teeth can help cause or exacerbate gum disease. Schedule an appointment for an evaluation of your gum disease, and then remember to schedule routine appointments to keep your tooth tartar under control.
If the behavioral changes and tartar removal have been successful and your gum disease is under control, it may be necessary to begin Occlusal (or Bite) Therapy. This will help to correct any tooth placement or loss issues that may have occurred as a result of gum disease.
If we determine that your gum disease has progressed so far as that behavioral changes and tartar removal are not sufficient in treatment, your dentist may deem surgery necessary. They will use local anesthetic to address problems, both functional and aesthetic, and fill in any missing teeth with implants.
Avoid further progression of your gum disease and begin treatment as soon as possible – the sooner you start, the less problems you’ll have with your teeth and gums in the future.
Contact Morrin Dental today to set up an appointment.
To comply with the AHPRA Legislation we are required to advise that “Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.”