Waking up to find blood on your pillow – and 5 other facts about gum disease

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Mel Prebble, Oral Health Expert and Dental Therapist shares her advice...

1. Gingivitis is a common condition. In simple terms, it basically means inflamed gums and usually occurs when bacteria accumulate on the teeth around the gum line. 

2. It is completely reversible. Removing the bacteria reduces the inflammatory response and the gums will usually retrain to health. Left untreated, for some people it may result in damage to the underlying structures that hold our teeth in our jaw. This is known as periodontal disease. It’s also important to consider that leaving inflammation untreated may leave an individual at risk of other systemic issues. 

3. Initially, it’s usually painless and most people can carry on their daily lives and not even realise they have gingivitis. Looking closer, we know healthy gums don't bleed, so bleeding when brushing or eating or blood on the pillow is a sign that's something is not right. The gums will look red and swollen and lose their sharp, pink appearance around the teeth.  The gums may even swell to cover the tooth in certain cases. Bad breath is also a symptom with the mature, ageing bacteria releasing gases that cause the odour. 

4. The good news is that in most cases treatment is self-administered i.e. you can fix yourself. Mechanical plaque removal with a toothbrush and an interdental brush breaks down the bacteria and restores health. Pristine oral hygiene it difficult – the evidence speaks for itself as more than 90% of us have some degree of gingivitis! 

5. A trip to a dental professional for advice on the ideal tools and techniques can quickly reverse the effects of plaque and also reduce the risk of further disease and dental treatment. It's usually recommend a dental cleaning will aid the process although, in most cases, it's not the most important factor. It's important to mention that, for certain individuals considered ‘at risk’, dental professionals may recommend gingivitis therapy (professional cleaning) to reduce the inflammation. 

6. Our gums and jawbone are the foundations that support our teeth. It's crucial we take care of the foundations to protect our teeth and any dental work we may undergo. If you have plans to have any cosmetic procedures, you can ensure the best results with optimal oral health. Treatments that involve bonding or filling will not be as ideal if the gums are bleeding and swollen – and may hinder your result.

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