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What is Gum Disease?

Image: © botazsolti Shutterstock

Dentists are always going on about your smile; their websites all have smile galleries with ​“Hollywood smiles” looking out at you.  The focus is very much on the teeth.  But what would a smile be without healthy-looking gums around the teeth.  Just think what you would look like with a big wide smile showing teeth with receding, swollen or bleeding gums and black spaces between the teeth; all signs of gum disease. Not a pretty sight!  In fact it could be the warning photo on the side of a cigarette pack.

The point I make is that while you protect your teeth from decay by cleaning with fluoride toothpaste, what do you do to prevent gum disease?  Brushing is a start but what do you aim to achieve when you brush?

The truth is that most people think that they are just cleaning that part of the teeth they can see in their mouth.  But that’s not true!  What you should aim to do is to remove the thin film of bacteria and protein called dental plaque or “biofilm” from the surface of the tooth; not just where you can see, but also under the gum margins around the entire circumference of each and every tooth, particularly in between the teeth. Now that doesn’t take just 2 minutes, does it?  Which brings me on to a question; how long does it take to brush your teeth?  90% of people brush for less than 3 minutes.  It’s just not long enough to do it thoroughly.

Having stirred you up to think about cleaning, just take a moment to consider what happens when the bacterial film remains undisturbed under the gum margin.  Keeping the story simple; the bacteria eat food and produce chemicals, some of which are highly toxic to the gums.  The result is gum inflammation known as Gingivitis, then the inflammation spreads from the soft gum towards the bone and then the bone is gradually eroded away reducing support for the tooth.  This latter stage of destruction is called Periodontitis.  The result is loose and infected teeth and ultimately tooth loss.

So next time you “think Dentist – think Gums”.

Home gum disease care or prevention is better than having to cure gum disease, and a lot cheaper too.  If gum disease occurs, and bone loss threatens the teeth, you’ve got two choices:

  • get gum disease treatment or
  • ignore the problem and accept dentures.

The choice is easy- keep your own teeth. 

As my hygienist always says, “you only need to clean the teeth you want to keep

Happy brushing!

contact the friendly team at NQ Surgical Dentistry today on (07) 4725 1656 or call in to see us at 183 Kings Rd, Pimlico QLD 4812


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