Gum disease starts as a minor inflammation to a complicated condition that might require surgical treatment to correct. The following represents causes and treatment measures to be taken
CAUSES OF GUM DISEASES
Bacteria in our mouths mixes with food particles and mucus to form a sticky, colorless substance on teeth referred to as plaque. Flossing and brushing of teeth removes plaque which otherwise hardens to form tartar when brushing is not done
If plaque and tartar stays on teeth for a very long time, it becomes more harmful leading to inflammation of gums; a condition called Gingivitis which is a simple form of gum disease characterized by Red swollen gums that bleed easily. Regular teeth cleaning can help in reversing gingivitis
Untreated gingivitis causes Periodontitis. Periodontitis causes gums to pull away from the teeth causing ‘pockets’. Plaque establishes itself and grows below the gum line leading to breakdown of connective tissues holding the teeth and bone. If untreated at this stage, the teeth become loose to await removal.
Consider the following risk factors;
Hormonal Changes: Especially in women and young girls, hormonal changes can cause gum sensitivity making it easier for gingivitis infection
Genetics: Some people are susceptible to having gum diseases than others because of genetics
Smoking: Smoking reduces the chances of the body’s ability to fight infections
Other Diseases and Ailments: A good example is AIDS whose treatment can negatively affect gums. also people with DIABETES stand a high chance of developing not only gum disease but also other infections
Medications: Some drugs reduce saliva flow. Saliva offers protection to the mouth. When insufficient, the mouth becomes susceptible to infections. Some drugs cause gum tissues to overgrow making it difficult to clean teeth and gums
Symptoms of Gum Diseases
In major cases, gum disease signs are evident between the ages of 30 and 40 years. It is important to note that most teenagers hardly develop periodontitis but gingivitis (which is a mild form of gum disease). Gum disease comes about when plaque accumulates under or along the gum line. To know whether one has gum disease, the following symptoms will be experienced
Tender bleeding gums with loose teeth
Bad breath that won’t disappear
Swollen red gums
Receding gums that make the teeth to appear longer
Pain when chewing food
If with any of the above symptoms, it is advisable to immediately visit a dentist. who will then ask questions with regard to your medical history and risk factors e.g. smoking, examine your gums for any inflammation signs, take an x ray is necessary and do a painless pocket depth test ( a healthy mouth has a pocket depth of between 1 and 3 millimeters).
Gum Diseases Vs. Other Health Complications
According to research, it has been established that people who have gum diseases are more likely to develop heart diseases compared to their counterparts with healthy gums. Again, other studies indicate that women with gum diseases are more likely to deliver preterm and low weight babies compared to women with healthy gums
More research is being conducted to explain the above correlation but it is assumed that there may be something that causes both the gum diseases and other complications
GUM DISEASE TREATMENT
Gum diseases can be treated surgically or non-surgically by the use of drugs and homemade remedies as below.
Surgical Treatment for Gum Diseases
Examples of surgical methods for gum disease treatment include;
Bone Surgery: In bone surgery, reshaping of the bone around the tooth is done to decrease craters therefore making it difficult for bacteria to accumulate and grow.
Flap Surgery: Also regarded as pocket reduction surgery. In this procedure, tarter is removed and gums lifted back. Sometimes, damaged bone and irregular bone surfaces are smoothed so as to limit areas where bacteria can hide. Flap surgery reduces the existing space between teeth and gum hence reducing areas where disease-causing bacteria grow thereby decreasing chances of gum disease infection.
Guided Tissue Regeneration: This procedure is done when the bone supporting the teeth is damaged or destroyed. Guided tissue regeneration stimulates both tissue and bone growth.
Soft Tissue Grafts: This surgical form of treatment tends to reinforce thin gums and fill spaces with receded gums. In most cases tissue is grafted from the mouth roof and stitched in the affected area.
Bone Grafts: Donated bone, synthetic bone or fragments from your own bone are used in the replacement of bone destroyed by gum disease. These bone grafts act as a platform for bone re-growing thereby restoring teeth stability. With innovation and technology, a new method called tissue engineering which accelerates bone and tissue regeneration by the body has been borne
Surgical treatment can only be adopted if the teeth tissue is unhealthy or completely destroyed.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Gum Diseases
The following are non-surgical treatment methods of gum diseases.
Root Planing and Scaling: Planing is the smoothing of rough spots on the tooth thereby removing bacteria and providing smooth, clean surface for teeth reattachment. Root scaling is the scraping away of tartar and plaque from below or above the gum line. scaling and root planing therefore involve deep cleaning with local anaesthesia
Professional Dental cleaning: Done by a dentist during dental check-ups, it involves removal of tartar and plaque that accumulates and hardens on the teeth surface
Drug Use for Gum Disease Treatment
Drugs can be used alone or combined with surgeries and other remedies to eliminate or temporarily reduce bacterial effects on gums as below
Chlorhexidine: Its brands include PerioChip, Peridex and PerioGard among others. It is an antimicrobial essential for controlling gingivitis and plague. Usually, Chlorhexidine is used as a mouth rinse. It is also available in form of gelatini.e. a chip that fills pockets after root planing
CoQ10: This is ubiquinone Co-enzyme. It helps the body to convert sugars into fats. studies show that when CoQ10 is placed on mouth gums, it helps in periodontitis treatment
Dental Probiotic e.g. Lozenges with Lacto bacillusreuteri Prodentis that helps in the restoration of natural mouth balance after the use of mouthwashes and other oral antiseptics.
Listerine: When Listerine is gargled, a very good mouthwash reduces gingivitis and plaque. It should be used twice a day (each use for approximately 30 seconds)
Sprays: A good example is 0.2% chlorhexidine (CHX) spray. it has anti-bacterial properties that reduce inflammation and plaque accumulation caused by gingivitis
Gengigel: Contains hyaluronate acid essential in stimulating growth of new tissues in gums, hyaluronate also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties essential for treating periodontitis and gingivitis.
Metronidazole or Amoxicillin are antibiotics recommended to people with Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG).These antibiotics are usually taken for three days; a duration within which one should not take alcohol metronidazole can make one diarrhoea or feel nauseated.
Other antibiotics that can be used in the treatment of gum diseases include tetracycline, minocycline and doxycycline among others.
Treatment with homemade remedies
Homemade remedies can be used in curing Periodontal Diseases, Gingivitis, Bleeding, Swollen Gums, soreness and other dental complications. Consider the following:
i. Honey Rubbing: Honey should be applied on the affected gums after brushing teeth. Honey is known to treat infected gums due to its natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It contains a lot of sugar; therefore, care should be taken to apply on gums rather than teeth.
ii. Stress Reduction: There is always a relationship between stress and dental health. This is as per research carried out by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). It was established that stressful people have an immune system that is compromised and therefore difficult for it to fight bacteria that causes periodontal and other gum diseases. According their research, stress is not equal and stress due to financial worries has the highest probability of causing gum diseases.
iii. Sea Salt Solution: Rinsing mouth with sea salt solution for approximately thirty seconds draws infections from abscesses and reduces swollen gums.
iv. Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice:Unsweetened cranberry juice prevents bacteria from sticking on teeth.
v. Tea bag application: Tea bag contains tannic acid, which has been found to be very effective in relieving gum infection. The following represents the mode of use:
Put a tea bag in boiling water and let it for approximately three minutes.
Remove it and allow it to cool
Place the tea bag on the affected part of the gums and hold it there for up to five minutes
This method is very effective compared to when you simply drink the beverage. Drinking too much tea is also discouraged as it causes teeth staining and discoloration
vi. Use of lemon paste: Lemon is an anti-inflammatory and contains vitamin C essential for fighting gum infections. The following represents the mode of use:
Add salt to lemon juice and mix well
Take a sip and gargle for a few minutes then spit out
Rinse your mouth with warm water
Apart from the use of lemon paste as described above, other fruits e.g. grapes, guavas, bell peppers, papaya and straw berries among others contain vitamin C and their consumption is encouraged. As an anti-oxidant, Vitamin C also promotes bone regeneration and growth of connective tissues(which might be affected by gum problems)
vii. Brushing teeth with Baking Soda: This is more of a preventative than treatment measure as baking soda reduces chances of gum diseases and teeth decay by neutralizing acids in the mouth. The following represents the mode of use:
With a glass of warm water, add little amount of baking soda and mix
Use this solution to brush your teeth
viii. Vitamin D intake: Like Vitamin C, Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory. Examples of foods rich in Vitamin D include; eggs, salmon, cod liver oil and sunflower seeds among others.Vitamin D can also be obtained by soaking or basking in the sun.
ix. Practiced Oral Hygiene: This is the best method of treating gum disease. Sometimes Oral Hygiene is used in addition to medical and other dental treatments. It involves;
Brushing teeth twice a day for approximately three minutes with fluoride toothpaste
Regular teeth flossing
Regular dental visits for check ups
x. Quit smoking: Tobacco delays heeling and reduces the body’s ability to fight infections. This can lead to teeth loss since infected gums won’t respond well to treatment.