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News / April 17, 2013

Free gum disease leaflet launched for Irish patients

by Guy Hiscott

A medical information leaflet intended to raise patients’ awareness of gum disease has been launched by some of the country’s key professional dental organisations.

The publication – titled What hides beneath? – is a joint effort between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the Irish Dental Hygienists Association and Dublin Dental University Hospital.

It explains the causes, symptoms and preventative measures for the disease, and is available for patients to collect free from dental surgeries, dental hygienists, cardio departments in hospitals and pharmacies around the country. It can also be accessed online.

The leaflet describes gum disease as a silent disease that can damage a person’s general health and is a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, bacterial pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic disorders

Dr Steve Kerrigan, senior lecturer in pharmacology in RCSI said: ‘Gum disease is a chronic infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth, leading to red, swollen and tender gums.

‘When most people think of a healthy smile, they picture straight white teeth. Many people never stop to consider the health of the gums and bone supporting the teeth that allow for a nice smile. Over time, the inflammation as a result of gum disease causes the gums and bones surrounding the teeth to recede and teeth to fall out, changing the overall look of a person’s face, mouth and smile.’

Gum disease affects four out of five people in Ireland and the level of gum disease worsens with age. Common lifestyle and dietary factors such as smoking, obesity and stress in addition to hormonal changes and some prescription medications can cause gum disease.

Ms Susan Johnston, president of the Irish Dental Hygienists Association said: ‘By maintaining your dental health, not only are you helping to support your overall health, but also ensuring your smile lasts a lifetime.’

The leaflet is available to download here.