Archive for Periodontal Disease

The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

The gums play a key role in the mouth – they protect your jawbone and help keep your teeth in place. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go as they should. A typical sign that something is wrong is gum pain. Gum pain can happen at any age, but it’s more common in older people. It can be very painful and it’s therefore something that should be taken seriously.

In this post, we’ll discuss the typical causes of gum pain and various ways you can alleviate it.

Common causes of gum pain

The most common causes of gum pain are:

  • Smoking. Smoke and cigarette chemicals, such as tar and nicotine, are very irritating to the gums and can cause gum problems.
  • Period hormones. Women sometimes find that they become more susceptible to gum infections during their period. This is because of changes in hormone levels.
  • Poor oral hygiene. A lack of proper brushing can lead to lesions and infections inside your mouth and on your gums.
  • Genes. Some people are genetically predisposed to gum problems. In particular, these include people with autoimmune diseases where the body attacks its own cells and tissues.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes can cause issues with blood circulation which in turn can lead to gum problems.
  • Some medications. Certain medications can impact your gums. For example, antihistamines, which some people need for allergies and asthma, can dry your mouth which in turn increases your risk of gum infection. Another example is contraceptives, which can cause gum inflammation.

What to do if you have gum pain

If the cause of your gum pain is an infection, then see a dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to temporarily alleviate your gum pain.

  • Apply cold to your gums. Cold is an effective way to reduce gum pain because it numbs the area. To apply cold to your gums, try making a cold compress. Start by putting ice in a plastic, sealable bag. Then add a bit of water to the bag, seal it and wrap it in a damp towel. Finally, apply to compress to your gums. You should immediately feel some alleviation of your pain.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Salt can help to kill an infection. Stir two spoons of salt into a glass of water and then rinse your mouth with it. Don’t drink it though, as the salt can dehydrate you.
  • Rub clove oil onto your gums. Try rubbing clove oil on your gums as it can sometimes reduce gum pain.
  • Take painkillers. You can buy over-the-counter painkillers from a pharmacy that will temporarily alleviate your gum pain.
  • Rinse with a special mouthwash. Some mouthwashes are specifically designed to help treat gum problems. Ask your local pharmacist for help choosing one.

At Scott Arms Dental Practice, we have many years’ experience dealing with gum problems. If you have a gum problem that you’d like us to take a look at, call us on 0121 357 5000 or book online. We also have an emergency dental service available 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Posted in: Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

Receding Gums – Causes and Treatment

Gum recession is a hugely common problem with approximately 50% of the population showing signs of receding gums. This figure only increases with age yet few people are aware of what causes gum recession and how to avoid it.

The aetiology of gum recession is often multi-factorial, but the consequence is generally the same; gum pulling away from the natural margin of a tooth crown exposes the root, causing sensitivity, decay risk and often an unpleasant appearance.

periodontal treatment for receding gums
Receding Gums

Overzealous Tooth Brushing

Overzealous tooth brushing is often the culprit in localised recession (which affects only a few teeth). It is mostly the upper canines (pointed, fang-like teeth) that are affected in cases of aggressive brushing. Connecting the front teeth to the chewing teeth at the back though their angular positioning, canines are sometimes considered the ‘corners’ of the mouth and are consequently subject to increased pressure during tooth brushing. The thin layer of gum and bone overlying the bulbous root of the upper canines is easily worn away from continual rubbing, unable to regrow.

Gum Disease

In cases of generalised recession (which affects a larger area of the mouth), a history of periodontal disease can be expected. During active stages of the disease, combinations of host-parasite interactions destroy the vital tissue surrounding teeth. Despite the underlying bone thinning, the overlying gum tissue remains plushy and swollen due to active infection. Only when the disease is arrested will the gums shrink down to match the new bone levels.

Unfortunately this side effect of successful periodontal treatment can come as a surprise. During the active stages of the disease, the gums often remain at a cosmetically acceptable level but then shrink once the issue is resolved. However, arresting the degradation of underlying tissue as soon as possible is often the only way to save the teeth and a reduced gum height is usually accepted as a small price to pay.

Other causes of gum recession are less common. Genetics can play a part in a person’s susceptibility to gum disease, which often results in recession. Life choices are also a factor: tongue and lip piercings can rub the gum they have most contact with, causing it to thin and eventually disappear. Emotional and mental status also has a role: clinical depression can result in poor oral hygiene, which may lead to periodontal disease and recession. Similarly, gingivitis artefacta, a very rare type of injurious behaviour, involves picking or scratching at the gums and is often associated with psychological issues.

Periodontal Treatment

Treating gum recession is complex. Very thin oral tissues intended to overlie slim segments of bone are difficult to regain. Gum surgery is an option in some cases and usually involves the removal of a thin section of healthy tissue from an oral donor site (like the palate) and attaching it to a receiving site. While these operations can be wonderfully successful, their longevity needs to be considered for each case. In instances of generalised gum recession following periodontal disease, full-mouth reconstruction (with either donor tissue or prosthetics) is rare, expensive and often unpredictable.


A better way to deal with gum recession is perhaps by both preventing it from occurring and treating it symptomatically. Having regular dental checks and maintaining good oral hygiene are often adequate to reduce the risk of gum recession, though removing piercings and visiting a doctor with any psychological concerns are also both important.

Symptomatic relief is generally found through the application of sensitive toothpaste to the areas of exposed dentine. Painful gums should be cleaned gently (a single-tufted brush can be advantageous in these situations). There are also products on the market available to soothe gum pain.

If you are concerned about gum recession or want to know more about treatment and relief options, book an appointment with your dentist today on 0121 357 5000.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Latest Tech for Treating Gum Disease

With nearly 50% of the population suffering from it, gum disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in the country. The most common form of the disease, chronic periodontitis, mostly affects adults over the age of forty and is characterised by the loss of bone, gum and other surrounding structures responsible for anchoring teeth into their sockets. Triggered by the invasion and multiplication of particular bacteria, chronic periodontitis is a slowly progressing disease involving complex interactions between host and parasite. The natural progression of the disease results in the loss of the tooth as there is nothing left to hold it into the mouth, regardless of the health of the tooth itself.

Periodontal disease is very complex and not completely understood. Studying it and isolating all the different bacteria involved has proved very difficult. Consequently, the aetiology of periodontal disease is not black and white. However, there are correlations between the prevalence and severity of the disease with a number of risk factors including genetics, smoking, oral hygiene and even the presence of some systemic diseases.

Unusual cases aside, most instances of periodontal disease arise when bacteria are given time to flourish, multiply and encourage the invasion of further, more pathogenic, bacteria. Located deep inside the natural pockets around all teeth, these bacteria slowly begin to destroy the tissue. Products released from this continual destruction kick the host immune system into action. Interestingly, in situations where the disease continues to flourish (when the immune system is not capable of combatting all the bacteria) the host defences appear to exacerbate the situation, further destroying local tissues in a bid to both access the bacteria and destroy them. Maintaining good oral hygiene undoubtedly reduces the risk of periodontal disease, as the immature bacteria are constantly removed before they have a chance to grow more dangerous.

With periodontal disease awareness growing, some of the most expensive dental law cases arise from the failure to recognise and treat the disease early on. These days, screenings for periodontal disease are carried out in every routine examination and more patients understand the condition that once may have gone undiscussed.

Treating chronic periodontal disease requires comprehensive oral hygiene instruction, along with the eradication of any risk factors such as smoking. Cleaning above the gum line is always carried out and once it can be seen that the patient is able to achieve a high standard of oral hygiene the next stage of treatment can begin.

Root surface debridement (RSD) is the term given for the manual removal of bacteria and their debris from the below the gum line. During periodontal disease, tissue that would once have been attached to the tooth becomes destroyed, creating a pocket around the tooth. After anaesthesia is achieved, small instruments can be inserted into the pockets so that the bacteria and debris can be removed, allowing the tissue to once again reattach. Generally the combination of RSD, oral hygiene instruction and risk factor removal are adequate to arrest the disease and allow the mouth to return to health.

In some circumstances, the gums around the odd tooth may not respond to standard periodontal treatment despite compliance and efficiency. Designed ‘because every tooth matters’, PerioChip is a biodegradable chip impregnated with chlorhexadine digluconate that, when used as an adjunct to standard periodontal treatment, has been shown to more than double the chance of success.

Periochip for treating gum disease

Chlorhexadine digluconate might ring a bell; it is the active ingredient used in the popular product, Corsodyl. While Corsodyl is effective at improving gum health in early periodontal disease, even if it were able to saturate the deep pockets associated with severe disease it would be washed out again momentarily. PerioChip, containing the same chemical, can be inserted into the pocket where it will remain until it biodegrades in seven days. Popular amongst periodontists, PerioChip is the only biodegradable, antimicrobial product available in the UK and, because it contains only antibacterials and not antibiotics, there is no danger of bacterial resistance.

For more information on periodontal disease and PerioChip, visit

Posted in: Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

Halitosis – causes and treatment

A woman with fresh breath

Bad breath is one of the most common reasons that people visit the dentist, and for most people it is something that can be fixed with simple hygiene and perhaps a change in diet.

The tongue is one of the main causes of halitosis. Its anatomy makes it a perfect environment for flourishing bacteria, which can produce foul odours during their natural metabolism. Cleaning the tongue with a dedicated brush is one of the easiest ways to solve this problem, though it is rarely practised.

Gum disease is another significant cause of bad breath. When unnatural ‘pockets’ form around teeth, bacteria can thrive in protected envelopes of gum.

A bad taste in the mouth can often signify a dental problem and is usually coupled with an unpleasant smell. The cause of this is most likely due to a decaying tooth and/or a pus-filled abscess – both of which contain bacteria, necrotic tissue and debris.

These causes of bad breath can all be solved by the following:

  • Cleaning the tongue regularly (along with the rest of the teeth and mouth)
  • Resolve any gum disease by visiting a hygienist
  • Fix any areas of decay and other dental disease by seeing a dentist
  • Chewing gum can temporarily mask bad breath, but will not help eliminate the cause.

Lots of people (and their partners!) complain of the unpleasant, but common, phenomenon known as ‘morning breath’. At night, the mouth is less active and saliva production decreases by up to 90%. Without the mechanical washing action of saliva and the antimicrobial products it contains, the amount of bacteria (and consequently bad smells) increases. This can be decreased by cleaning the mouth efficiently each night.

However, for some people bad breath is a side-effect of a systemic condition. Some types of cancer, liver failure, diabetes and various infections have all been linked to foul breath. In these cases, treating the underlying cause and managing the bad breath symptomatically with chewing gum and mouthwash are the most viable options. Some medications have also been known to dry out the mouth, causing bad breath; saliva substitutes and stimulants are often called for in these cases.

Below are some substances known to increase and decrease the chances of having bad breath:

Good Products Bad Products
Chewing gum – chewing gum can dislodge food from teeth, remove bacteria, smell nice and encourages saliva production, which helps flush bacteria from the mouth.Alcohol and coffee – both of these dry out the mouth, inhibiting it from naturally washing away bacteria.
Water – drinking water helps flush the mouth and reduces the amount of bacteria and food debris.Onions and garlic – notorious causes of bad breath caused by lingering sulphur gases.
Some herbs – herbs like parsley release oils that help freshen breath.Smoking – not only does smoke itself smell terrible, but the act of smoking dries out the mouth, restricting it from cleaning itself.
Fruit and vegetables – vitamin C-containing products can help reduce the chance of gum disease, a notorious cause of bad breath.Protein-based foods such as meat and dairy – don’t stop eating these products, but be aware that they break down into amino acids, which can linger in the mouth and cause bad smells.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

Getting a Scale and Polish in Birmingham

Scale and Polish treatment from our Birmingham Dentists to remove plaque and tartar

Simply brushing alone won’t help in the war against plaque, sometimes you’re going to need the help of a scale and polish from your Birmingham Dentist.

Every day a white, sticky film of bacteria called plaque forms on the surface of your teeth. These bacteria are the ones that cause gum disease, they can be removed with correct brushing and flossing but sometimes we miss them in those hard to reach places. After 24 hours the plaque hardens into a substance called tartar (calculus), sadly this can’t be removed by brushing alone and requires the help of a dentist. A build-up of calculus on the teeth can provide the optimum conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums, leading to gum disease.

How does your dentist remove the hardened plaque?

Your Birmingham dentist or hygienist has undergone training to use special tools that gently remove tartar deposits without damaging the surface of the teeth. Before scaling and polishing takes place your dentist will carefully assess the condition of your teeth and gums. One way of achieving this is by using ultrasonic instruments which use vibrations which cause the hardened tartar to break away from the tooth surface, whilst spraying water to wash away the debris. This device usually makes a high pitched whistling sound which is quite distinct in the dental surgery. Once the larger pieces are tartar are removed the dentist will make use of a scaler, these are used gently to scrape off the smaller pieces of tartar from the teeth, leaving the surface of the teeth clean and smooth. FInally the teeth are polished, leaving them looking shiny and clean.

Sometimes after a Scale and Polish from your dentist your teeth may feel sensitive, this is quite normal and reversible so there is nothing to worry about. If any sensitivity problems persist you should visit your dentist for more help.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to dental treatment, preventing dental problems occurring is a lot cheaper and easier than having to treat the dental problems themselves. With a good standard of oral hygiene and regular scale and polishes, you should be protected against the onset of gum disease.

If you’re looking for Scale and Polish treatment in Birmingham or simply more information of the procedure and how to prevent gum disease, contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice on 0121 357 5000. We’re open 7 days a week and our friendly team can help you with any dental problems you may have.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

Are you suffering from Gum Disease?

Gum disease can be helped by periodontal treatment from our Birmingham Dentists

Gum disease affects a large proportion of the UK but some people are simply unaware of it’s presence. If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, your gums are swollen or your teeth are starting to wobble you could be suffering from gum disease.

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gum that can progress to the bone supporting your teeth. If not removed from daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up on your teeth allowing bacteria to infect your gums and teeth.

Early symptoms of gum disease can be recognised by your dentist and be stopped before the disease can cause any real damage. It’s important to combat periodontitis early, if allowed to develop further it could have a dramatic effect on your smile.

Checking if you have Gum Disease

Gum disease is most common amongst adults but can affect people at any age. If you experience any of the following symptoms its advised you seek professional help:

  • Your gums bleed when you brush or floss
  • Gums have become red and swollen
  • Teeth have become lose
  • Spaces have started to form between your teeth
  • When you bite your teeth fit together differently

As gum disease progresses the symptoms get worse. Patients experience noticeable bad breath. Teeth become more sensitive, the gum line recedes and pus can even seep from the gums.

How is Gum Disease treated?

After visiting a dentist due to experiencing some of the symptoms of gum disease they will do a thorough examination to assess its severity. Early stages of gum disease can be treated easily with proper and regular brushing/flossing. Maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene will prevent the build up of plaque that causes your gums to become infected.

However when plaque builds up, it hardens into tartar which cannot be removed by normal brushing or flossing. Either a dentist or dental hygienist will scale your teeth to remove the tartar above and below your gum line. Depending on the severity of the disease, your dentist will be able to supply you with antibiotics and painkillers. Other treatments such as root planing and surgery are available if required to treat more advanced stages of gum disease.

Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to treat gum disease is by preventing it from occurring by maintaining a good standard or oral hygiene. Whilst it may seem like common sense, it’s important the following is carried out to help keep gum disease at bay:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, this helps removes the plaque of the surface of the teeth which can harden into tartar and lead to gum disease.
  • Regular Flossing. This is vital as can get to those hard to reach places a toothbrush simply can’t.
  • An Antibacterial Mouthwash can work in conjunction with brushing and flossing to help remove plaque from your mouth.

What to do for more advice

If you’re suffering from gum disease or experiencing any symptoms it’s worth seeking professional help from a dentist immediately. At the Scott Arms Dental Practice our Dentists in Birmingham have over 22 years of experience treating patients for gum disease related problems. We offer an emergency dental service 365 days a year and treat our patients with the highest standard of dental care.

Posted in: Emergency Dentist, Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (0) →

Dentist Birmingham answers your Bleeding Gums questions

Dentist Birmingham answers Bleeding Gums questions

Many people in Birmingham and the rest of the UK suffer from bleeding gums, a problem that is rather upsetting for the patient but can easily be prevented.

Bleeding gums may not be as simple as it seems. Can be a precursor to conditions such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which if left untreated can lead to Periodontal disease that can damage the teeth and gums.

What are the causes of bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums are caused by the inadequate removal of plaque from teeth at the gum line. Over time plaque builds up and causes the gums to become inflamed, leading to gingivitis. If this isn’t dealt with the plaque can harden to tartar, leading to gum disease.

Bleeding gums can be also caused by infections in the mouth, damage to the gum tissue through an injury, dietry problems, hormonal changes, the use of dentures, flossing when your gums are not used to it (or you’re flossing too hard) and brushing too hard. Whilst the inadequate removal of plaque is the most likely cause of bleeding gums, it does take a trained professional to diagnose the cause.

How can bleeding gums be prevented?

Through maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene, your teeth can be kept free of plaque and prevent conditions such as gingivitis occurring.

Am I more susceptible to gum problems?

Gum problems are more common in patients over the age of 35. Around 30% of people are genetically susceptible to gum disease, this group of people to take extra care with their oral health to ensure periodontal disease is prevented.

Can bleeding gums be due to a problem with my diet?

Certain dietary deficiencies can have an influence on bleeding gums. Vitamin C is important to help the body repair and maintain connective tissue, its antioxidant effects are important in the presence of gum-damaging oxidants. Consuming less than your daily allowance of vitamin C can significantly increase your risk of gum disease.

How can I treat my bleeding gums problem at home?

Brushing your teeth after every meal, using an antibacterial mouthwash and ensuring that you floss at least once a day can prevent bacteria building up on the gum margin. Patients are always advised to reduce their sugar intake within their diet as this is a common cause of many dental problems, sugar promotes the growth of bacteria and the build-up of plaque, making your bleeding gum problem worse.

Smoking can aggravate bleeding gums making them worse. Smoking also reduces oxygen in the blood, with prevents the gum tissue healing properly.

What should I do if my gums get worse?

If you’re suffering from bleeding gums on a regular basis or you’re simply concerned about your oral health it’s worth heading down to your dentist to have a professional take a look. It’s worth seeing a dental hygienist for a professional teeth clean, removing the plaque build-up from the teeth, keeping them and your gums healthy. Feel free to contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice if you need any assistance with your bleeding gum problems.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

Leave a Comment (2) →