WHAT IS GUM DISEASE AND WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Heitz says gum disease can be divided into two different diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis. Signs of gingivitis include swelling, redness and bleeding gums.
“In severe cases, bleeding can be spontaneous, but more often bleeding is only noticed when cleaning the teeth,” says Heitz.
Flossing is key
Gingivitis can be reversed but, if left untreated, can lead to a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. The symptoms of periodontitis include teeth becoming loose or drifting out of position. Despite common beliefs, Heitz stresses pain is not usually a symptom of periodontitis.
“This is part of the problem. Many people rely on pain to be an indicator of disease thinking ‘no pain’ equals ‘no problem’. Thus, gum diseases can sneak up on you,” he says.
Preventing gum disease is simple enough: clean your teeth well. However, cleaning doesn’t just mean brushing. Heitz stresses if you’re just brushing your teeth, you’re only doing half the job. Cleaning in between your teeth as carefully as on the surface is critical as this is where most of the disease happens.
“If we could get people to floss with as much effectiveness as brushing, a lot of the dental problems we see would disappear,” Heitz claims.
Tackle it as a team
He also stresses the importance of working with your dentist and dental hygienist as a team.
“Don’t just let them clean your teeth: get them to coach you how to keep your teeth and gums clean at home.” So while the jury is out about the links between gum disease and heart disease, ensuring your teeth and gums are in good shape is a key component in looking after your overall health.
‘many people rely on pain to be an indicator of disease... thus, gum diseases can sneak up on you’