These days it is routine to treat or stabilise gum disease and keep the remaining teeth, though this does depend on a high level of cooperation from the patient. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, low birth weight babies and bacterial lung infections.
A very high percentage of the population have some area in their mouths where the gums bleed when teeth are brushed. This is called ‘gingivitis’ and if it persists for a significant time it can progress to actual bone loss from gum disease, also called ‘periodontitis’.
Testing your gums
As a routine part of your regular check up from your dentist, he will assess your gums using a blunt probe to feel for tartar under the gum and also for any separation of the seal between the gums and the teeth.
Sometimes bleeding gums (‘gingivitis’) tell us that we have areas which we missed when we brushed recently – When we brush better, the bleeding will stop with few permanent effects.
Getting ‘long in the tooth’ is when the gum on the outside face of the teeth shrinks, leaving the tooth looking longer. (This is not gum disease, which usually affects the gums tight between the teeth).