Gum diseases are essentially of two types — gingivitis and periodontitis (pyorrhea). Gingivitis is the early stage of disease, which is characterised by red gums which bleeds easily.Normally, it is painless. However, if left untreated over a period of time, gingivitis may progress to become periodontitis, which involves the slow but steady destruction of the tooth supporting tissues, including the underlying bone which will weaken the teeth making them loose and may result in their loss. Gingivitis starts during late childhood. Most forms of periodontitis begin around the age of 30 and progress at varying rates.
The most common cause of gingivitis and periodontitis is poor oral hygiene. They always commence with the plaque on the teeth. When the invisible, sticky plaque biofilm stays on the teeth longer than two or three days, it hardens into tartar (calculus). It irritates the gingiva, and if unchecked can lead to severe disease with loss of fiber support around teeth and ultimately the loss of teeth.
Tobacco use, poor nutrition, dry mouth, diabetes, certain viral and fungal infections and hormonal changes increase the risk of gum diseases.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, preferably after every meal or snack. If you lack the manual dexterity, consider using an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective at removing plaque.
- Eat a nutritious diet rich in fibres. Avoid eating sticky sweets, particularly between meals.
- If you are a smoker, quit the habit as it increases the occurrence and severity of gum diseases. Consuming tobacco in other forms such as guthka is equally harmful.
- Brushing alone is not enough. Use floss and rinse with antiseptic mouthwash daily to reduce plaque formation between the teeth.
- Get regular professional dental cleanings done as recommended by your dentist.
- Your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and explain the prevailing condition in detail. A thorough scaling and root planning to remove all the deposits from the teeth will be done. He/she will also teach you the right method of brushing and flossing the teeth and may prescribe a mouth rinse for your regular use.
- If your gums are beefy red, swollen and bleed easily, seek professional care.