Plaque and gingivitis

When you are a child, taking care of your teeth seems to be all about learning how to brush them and making sure you do so for long enough to avoid tooth decay. The threat of decay seems to fade as you enter adulthood and for a while it may seem that nothing can touch you or your teeth. You may even be tempted to stop coming in for those twice-yearly check-ups with us at Meadowbank Dental in Edinburgh.

Gingivitis in EdinburghBut don’t do that because something else could well be going on, and, like decay, it can sneak up on you without you realising. We are talking about gingivitis, more commonly known as gum disease.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is a two-stage problem. In its early phase, it is known as gingivitis. Gingiva is the medical term for the gums, the pink flesh that comes down over your jawbone and fits snugly around your teeth to protect the roots.

Also in your mouth are harmless bacteria. They are meant to be there, and they are not a problem in themselves. They do create problems though. When you eat the bacteria feed on sugars left in your mouth, and then they multiply very quickly. That’s why at the end of the day, you can have a furry feeling on your teeth. That’s the bacteria forming a sticky layer of what is known as dental plaque. These bacteria give off acids, and if you don’t remove the plaque twice a day with brushing and flossing, the acids can start to attack your gums.

Gingivitis is the result. Your gums feel sore and swollen and they bleed very easily when you brush them.

How to get rid of gingivitis

Dealing with gingivitis in Edinburgh is fairly easy. It requires a really diligent oral hygiene routine coupled with regular deep cleanings to remove any plaque hidden away where your toothbrush can’t get at it. Remove the plaque and the gums should settle down.

If you don’t treat gingivitis

Left alone, the plaque hardens into calculus and the acids cause the gums to lift away from the teeth. The acids can then attack your tooth roots and jawbone and you can lose your teeth.