Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.
What Is Periodontal Disease And What Are The Symptoms?
Periodontal or Gum disease is an infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. Symptoms are one or more from the following list:
bleeding of the gums
inflammation of the gums
receding of the gums
All these symptoms arise from bacterial accumulations and food particles that get down between the gum line and the teeth.
Learn How To Prevent Or Halt And Reverse Gum Disease
Learning how to prevent gum disease, and how to stop existing periodontitis in its tracks could save all of us a lot of unnecessary pain, expense and possibly other illnesses that are now being linked to severe periodontal disease (as gum disease is also known).
In this article, we are going to be looking at how you can protect yourself and your family from gum disease which is widespread in adults and improve your gum health by reversing periodontal disease.
Protect Your Gums From Periodontal Disease
To prevent gum disease, the vital thing is to clean your mouth thoroughly but gently, without damaging the gum line or over-brushing the teeth.
Regular brushing of the tooth surfaces should be supplemented by one or more of the following methods.
- Flossing or using dental tape
- Using interdental brushes
- Using toothpicks
- Using a Water Flosser
All these methods, get between the teeth and gums, massaging the gums to stimulate circulation and removing those bits of food debris and bacteria.
The beginning of gum disease is minor irritation of the gums where plaque forms around the base of teeth and along the gum line.
This progresses as the bacteria in the plaque forms toxins which irritate the gum further. This stage is called gingivitis.
This progresses to periodontitis and then to severe periodontitis where you are at serious risk of losing teeth.
Take a look at the video below to see the progression of gum disease.
1. How To Use a Water Flosser
There are lots of different brands on the market, but for best value and easy and efficient use, we recommend the Waterpik Water Flosser.
It only takes a minute a day to remove up to 99.9% of all the plaque in your mouth. Because it is so gentle to use and massages your gums, it improves the overall health of your mouth. Waterpik state that their water flossers are up to
"50% more effective than traditional dental floss and up to 80% more effective than Sonicare Air Floss for improving gum health."
It will clean between your teeth and below the gumline as well. Waterpik's clinical studies reveal that you will get healthier gums in just 14 days!
How To Use A Water Flosser
I Recommend The Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser
2. How To Floss
3. How To Use Interdental Brushes
Whilst mouthwashes might well make your breath smell fresher, they have only limited use when it comes to removing plaque and protecting gums and are certainly no substitute for efficient brushing and flossing. An article on the Chicago Tribune Website, explains that manufacturers of mouthwash brands that have fluoride as the principle active ingredient were warned by the FDA (the US Food And Drug Administration) to stop implying that their mouthwashes would
" would prevent gum disease and remove dental plaque, the sticky biofilm of bacteria and other substances that collects on teeth above and below the gumline"
In addition the makers of Listerine were similarly warned some years ago when they had to halt their advertising campaign which suggested that their mouthwash
" was as effective as flossing for preventing tooth and gum decay"
However, I should mention that Listerine does have the "Seal of Acceptance" from the American Dental Association as a proven plaque fighter.
Statistics on the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) website collected between 1999 and 2004 show that 8.52 percent of adults between 20 and 64 have some periodontal disease with 5.08 percent in this age group having moderate or even severe gum disease.
Men have a higher incidence of gum disease than females and the highest incidence of all seems to be among those whose race and ethnicity is classified as 'Black, non-Hispanic'. Smokers and those with low family incomes are also more likely to have periodontal disease.
More Teeth Lost Due To Gum Problems Than Tooth Decay
In adults over thirty-five, more teeth are lost due to gum disease than from tooth decay. Only one in four adults escapes having some level of gum disease during their lifetime.
What Other Factors Can Influence Periodontal Gum Disease?
Whilst having gum disease has been linked to the likelihood of getting other, serious health problems such as heart attack or stroke, there are health conditions and lifestyle choices that can affect the likelihood and severity of gum disease.
Smokers have a greater likelihood of tartar or calculus forming on their teeth.
The pockets between gums and teeth where bacteria can lurk, causing problems, are deeper in smokers. It has also been shown that long-term smokers also have greater levels of bone loss in their jaw, leading to loosening and loss of teeth.
The chemicals in tobacco also upset the chemistry of the mouth and interfere with healing.
Tooth Implants to replace lost teeth are less likely to be successful in smokers than non-smokers and healing after any dental procedure is likely to be slower.
It is also an unfortunate fact that 'smokeless' tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and nicotine lozenges increase the risk of oral cancer too.
Giving up smoking or use of smokeless tobacco products will improve the health of your mouth and help protect against gum disease. Your teeth will also look better too as tobacco causes staining of the enamel.
Gum disease is more likely during the times of a person's life when hormone levels are fluctuating the most.
These are typically during the teenage years and for women, during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
During the teen years, increased hormone production can cause gums to be more sensitive and more irritated by the bacterial plaque that can build up from food particles. Since this age group are more likely to be wearing orthodontic braces which can be very tricky to clean around, extra vigilance about oral hygiene is vital in order to prevent gum disease getting hold.
For women, hormone fluctuations just before menstruation and during the later stages of a pregnancy can result in red, sore gums, sometimes with bleeding and inflammation between teeth and gums.
For pregnant women in particular, prevention of gum disease and treatment of any problems which occur is very important as severe gum disease, gingivitis, has been linked to miscarriage and premature births.
Prescription hormones, both those used for contraceptive purposes and for HRT can cause similar problems with inflamed, bleeding, tender gums.
Bear in mind if you are taking oral contraceptives and have an infection in your gums for which your Dentist prescribes antibiotics, that these can make the contraceptive less effective, so
- a) tell your dentist about ANY medication you are taking
- b) take additional (barrier) contraceptive precautions if you need to take antibiotics for gum problems if your Doctor or Dentist advises it
During the Menopause many women report changes in their mouths, these might involve changes to how things taste and even pain or burning sensations in the gums. Women taking HRT at this time might experience similar problems to those taking oral contraception.
In cases where diabetes is not controlled or only poorly controlled, bacterial infections are more common.
It is not surprising then that gum disease arising from bacterial infections is also more common in this group of people.
Unfortunately, the infections make things worse as inflammation in the body affects the body's ability to process insulin which makes it even harder for the diabetes to be kept under control.
This is another reason why excellent oral hygiene in addition to careful management of blood sugar levels is vital for both type I and type II diabetics.
A visit to your dentist will give you an assessment of what level of gum disease you have. Then an 'action plan' to halt or even reverse it can be agreed.
It really is not too difficult to make big improvements and the sooner you start, the sooner you will see results.
It only takes a few moments a day to protect your gums. Use dental floss and/or the little interdental brushes or maybe splash out on a Water Flosser! Combine this with regular brushing with a good quality toothpaste and the correct type of toothbrush to protect you and your family from gum disease and halt any gum problems you already have.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on November 07, 2020:
Thank you for your kind comment Ramona.
Mona Ramona from Poland on November 05, 2020:
Thank you for the interesting article.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 22, 2013:
Thanks Lee, I appreciate your comments. Anyone who has gum disease should take advice from their Dentist, but if gums are bleeding when flossing or using interdental brushes, people often make the mistake of thinking that this is making things worse - whereas, learning how to floss and use these brushes correctly will bring a rapid improvement in gum health and the water flosser pictured will, if used as directed, bring a noticeable improvement in just 14 days!
L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on April 21, 2013:
You've packed a lot of useful information into this hub on how to protect against gum disease problems.
Periodontal diseases, like any other condition, is easier to prevent than it is to treat after it reaches the latter stages, so this information is great to have and easy to understand.
Great hub; voted up and Shared.
anndango on April 14, 2013:
Hello Alison. What an informative and well written hub! I always believe the more knowledge you have, the better armed you are to deal with your health, in this case teeth and gums. Voted up and useful.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 14, 2013:
Thank you both, @educateurself and @My Cook Book. Since doing the research for this article, I found that although I have been using the interdental brushes, I have not been using them to best effect, just pushing them between the gaps in a straight, backwards and forwards motion. Since watching the video on the correct way to use them, I have changed to their recommended method and in only a few days am certain that this has made a beneficial difference by cleaning more of the tooth surface at the gum line than before! Please do check out the video if you haven't already watched it.
Dil Vil from India on April 13, 2013:
Excellent hub, well organized and very well written. It is very informative as well, thanks for sharing. Brushing teeth twice a day is very important.
Educateurself on April 13, 2013:
Great hub full of information.