The statistics around gum disease can be surprising, and a little frightening: around three-quarters of adults above the age of 35 in the UK including London are suffering from gum disease in some form. In fact, gum disease, rather than tooth decay, is the most common reason for the loss of teeth in adults. The most common cause of gum disease is simply an insufficient oral hygiene routine. If we don’t clean our teeth enough, plaque can build up, eventually leading to tartar, which is very hard to remove from teeth. The bacteria produced by tartar inflame the gums, and can lead to gingivitis (gum disease). Smoking can increase the risk of gum disease, since it slows the blood flow to the gums, and certain groups such as those with diabetes and pregnant women may also be more susceptible.
Gum disease is often not painful, and so it may be difficult to tell that you are suffering from it at first. One of the signs which is often most easily spottable for some people is spitting blood when brushing the teeth. Other signs may include unusually red or swollen gums. Bad breath can be another indication that you have gum disease, along with an unusual ‘metallic’ taste in the mouth. Feeling that your teeth are especially sensitive to temperature changes may be another sign, as could, in some cases, red-blue like patches at the corners of gums. Also be on the lookout for ‘pockets’ forming between the teeth and gums. If you have any of these signs, the first step is to ensure that you are following a good oral hygiene routine. If this does not seem to help, or your symptoms are more severe, it may be best to contact your dentist, who will be able to advise you on the best course of action, and whether you will need further treatment.
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