Gum disease is the number one cause of teeth loss in adults in the UK. We explain more about this condition, and preventative measures.
Three out of four adults over the age of 35 have some form of gum disease, according to the Gum Disease Information Bureau. The disease progresses in two stages and starts with gingivitis that can cause tooth bleeding and sore gums due to inflammation. If this is not treated, it can then become periodontitis, which could lead to tooth loss and requires serious medical attention.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease involves the build-up of plaque, due to lack of dental hygiene care where bacteria left on teeth becomes tartar and starts to irritate and break down the gums and bones holding the teeth. Other factors include diseases that limit your immune system and make you prone to infections and inflammation, such as diabetes.
A recent study at the Academic Centre of Dentistry in Amsterdam has showed that gum disease can be linked to heart disease. From 600,000 patients, those suffering from gum disease were twice as likely to develop heart related issues such as blocked arteries or severe chest pain.
See also: Your Pearly Whites
Gum Disease Symptoms
• Swollen gums
• Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth
• Bad breath
• Gum abscesses
• Loose teeth
• Unpleasant taste in your mouth
How to prevent gum disease
Developing a strong dental care regime is the key to good dental health. If you have a higher risk of developing gum disease through other disorders such as diabetes, limit your carb intake and sugary foods as they can slow down your immune system and build up bacteria in your teeth which is more likely to cause infection and inflammation.
A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal looked into the effect of grapefruit (which has high levels of vitamin C) on smokers and non-smokers. In both groups, the patients’ vitamin C levels rose by a minimum of 50 percent, and those who had bleeding gums and inflammation prior to the experiment found a significant reduction in symptoms. They concluded that vitamin C could have a positive effect on gum disease due to its healing properties. ‘Because vitamin C promotes the healing of wounds and boasts antioxidant properties, it contributes to the therapy and prevention on gum disease,’ said a spokesman for the British Dental Association. This could also be
applied to other foods that contain vitamin C (such as peppers) if you want the same benefits without the sugar content from fruit.
Once gum disease has developed into periodontitis, the plaque breaks down the bone and can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis cannot be cured and comes with a range of complications if not treated right away, such as abscesses and bone damage.
Adopting a good dental hygiene routine can treat and prevent gum disease from developing into periodontitis. The NHS recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily. They also recommend you visit the dentist twice a year so they can remove any hardened plaque on your teeth which will help prevent it building up in the future. They will also be able to detect early signs of gum disease and treat it right away.
Whiter than white
There are products available for mild gum disease that contain chlorhexidine gluconate, which can be effective in treating the condition. However, it is said to also stain teeth when used frequently.
The safest way to whiten your teeth is with a qualified dentist, as advised by the NHS. This will give you the best results and a lower risk of complications.
There is a risk that teeth whitening, especially when done at home, can irritate your gums. To prevent this, try alternative methods that could provide temporary whitening. One method is oil pulling, which involves rinsing coconut oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. Over time, this should whiten teeth gradually without the discomfort that comes after chemical teeth whitening. This natural method, whilst gradual, is completely safe to use and suitable for sensitive teeth.
Read more on Celebrity Angels about how neglecting your teeth can cause gum disease and other health conditions.