In some cases, pocket surgery may be done, in which small incisions are made in the gums to allow a portion of gum tissue to be flapped back. This exposes the tooth’s roots so that deeper scaling and root planing can take place.
In the most extreme instances, teeth may have to be extracted and replaced with implants, costing around £7,000. These often fail, due to peri-implantitis, whereby the area around the implant also becomes inflamed.
“Periodontitis cannot be reversed, but effective treatment with a dentist, good oral hygiene and regular maintenance visits with a hygienist can keep it under control,” says Dr Joshi.
How to get and keep healthy gums
There’s no substitute for a good oral hygiene regime, which is vital to prevent harmful bacteria building up. Surveys consistently show that a third of us only brush our teeth once a day, but experts agree that twice is necessary for good gum health. Brush for two minutes at a time, using a fluoride toothpaste and ideally an electric toothbrush, which can get into the crevices more effectively than a manual.
“So many people do not realise how important it is to brush their teeth from the inside of the mouth, not just the outside,” says Dr Jethwa of the most common mistakes he sees. He also recommends using an antiseptic mouthwash to remove bacteria, but warns not to do it immediately after brushing: “This will wash away the fluoride.”
Flossing and using interdental brushes once a day is also advised to reach the areas toothbrushes miss. And if our gums bleed during brushing or flossing that’s not a signal to leave inflamed areas alone; we actually need to intensify our cleaning of those areas.
What foods are good for gum health?
“There is a large body of emerging evidence indicating that healthy and varied macro and micronutrient consumption can assist in supporting healthy gums,” says Dr Joshi.
We all know too much sugar is bad for our teeth, but it’s also bad for gums. “Diets high in sugars and ultra-processed foods are pro-inflammatory,” she says.
Instead, we should be choosing anti-inflammatory foods such as the Mediterranean diet, high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seafood and pulses which, research shows, reduce inflammation associated with gum disease.
She recommends plenty of vitamin C through the likes of strawberries, kale and oranges for strong collagen in the gums. “Lower vitamin D levels are also associated with higher rates of gum disease,” she says; for most people, the best way to ensure they get enough is via a supplement. Research suggests lycopene, found in red fruits such as tomatoes, could also help reduce the risk.
Sarah Carter is a health and wellness expert residing in the UK. With a background in healthcare, she offers evidence-based advice on fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being, promoting healthier living for readers.