You’re playing a friendly game of touch football; you’ve got the ball, and your running towards the end zone. Your cousin approaches from behind, ready to tag you, but misjudges the momentum, and pushes you to the ground. You land on your arm with a sickening snap, and you immediately know it’s time to go to the hospital. Broken arms are easy to identify and treat; there’s an event, severe pain, and an obvious solution. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can be quite a bit more pernicious than a broken arm.
To say that gum disease is common is an understatement; with 70% of the Canadian population affected by it at some point in time, it’s actually rarer to NOT get gum disease than it is to get it. The main reason for this is that gum disease starts as undetectable, and gets worse from there.
Gum disease begins with plaque that hasn’t been properly cleaned off of the teeth. Plaque that hasn’t been removed hardens into tartar, which cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone; you must go to the dentist. Tartar can lead to gum infection where the gums meet the teeth, called the “point of attachment”. At first, this infection might not carry any signs, or you may see minor swelling and redness in the gums, which may bleed a bit when you brush. This stage of gum disease is known as “gingivitis”, which literally means inflammation of the gums.
As gingivitis gets worse, pockets of infection form deeper in the gum, past the point of attachment. Your gums will begin to grow puffy, you’ll notice blood on your toothbrush when you brush; as it gets worse, the gums at the point of attachment start to break down, and you may notice discoloration and soreness. Finally, the bone that holds your teeth in place begins to break down as well, and you become at risk of tooth loss.
The effects of periodontal disease can be disastrous for your health; in dentistry, the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings ever true, so be sure to brush and floss daily, and see your dentist regularly. Every time you visit your dentist, they will check for signs of gum disease, and every cleaning gives them a chance to remove tartar. In especially bad cases, you may be referred to a periodontist, but don’t let it get to that point!
Some other signs of gum disease are sensitive teeth, bad breath and the taste of metal in your mouth. Should you exhibit any signs of gum disease, go visit your dentist! Markham Dental Centre is a Winnipeg dental office with qualified staff who are more than happy to answer any questions about your oral health, and guide you through preventive measures and treatment options.