Gum problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease are extremely prevalent and account for approximately 70% of lost teeth.
- A band of red, inflamed gingiva (gum tissue) around one or more teeth
- Swelling or bleeding after minimal injury (such as brushing the teeth)
- Superficial inflammation of the gums
- Spongy gum texture
- Bad breath or halitosis (which may indicate the presence of infection)
Gingivitis can be caused by an accumulation of plaque (which contains several strains of bacteria) on the tooth surface at the junction between the tooth and the gum.
As the plaque accumulates it hardens to form tartar and eventually damages the membrane that attaches the gums to the teeth (the periodontal membrane), causing periodontal disease. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets which collect even more plaque and are open to infection.
In extreme cases the damage extends into the jawbone, where abscesses can form and begin to erode the bone supporting the teeth.
Other factors contributing to the development of gingivitis and gum disease include:
- Poorly fitting fillings and dental prostheses
- A diet consisting of too many soft foods
- Improper brushing technique
- Chronic ill-health
- Excessive consumption of sugar or alcohol
- Deficiency of vitamin C, bioflavonoids and folic acid
A variety of nutrients, as in a multivitamin, to replace nutrients lost by poor chewing or limited food intake
Supplementing with vitamin C and bioflavonoids can reduce gum damage and gum bleeding
Echinacea supports healthy function of the immune system
Remove plaque daily with dental floss and a toothbrush, and use an antiseptic or bacteriostatic mouthwash to help control and prevent gingivitis.
Eat a wide variety of raw and cooked fresh foods so that your teeth and gums are “exercised” on different textures. These will also ensure that your diet is rich in much needed vitamins and minerals.
Oral hygiene is of primary importance in treating and preventing gum problems.
Routine cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist at regular intervals can prevent gingivitis. Severe gingivitis and periodontal disease require treatment by your dental surgeon.
Gum disease can be associated with heart disease – make sure you have regular medical check-ups.
Consult your healthcare professional if you experience symptoms such as fever or extreme pain which may indicate the presence of infection, or if your gums bleed easily or regularly.