Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular check-up, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between your teeth and gums.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental check-ups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis — this is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily caused. That causes plaque and tartar build-up on teeth
Periodontitis — infects the gum tissue more seriously, causes gum pockets and infection of the bone tissue. If left untreated, gingivitis will advance in stages called periodontitis. The gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged which causes loosen of total fall out of teeth
Certain factors can increase a patient's risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Treating Gum Disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Typical treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatments such as at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
- Dental implants
Preventing Gum Disease
Stay one step ahead of gum disease depending on the severity of the condition, our dentist may recommend additional professional dental cleanings, improved at-home oral hygiene, antibiotic treatment, scaling and root planning (deep cleanings), or gum surgery good oral hygiene at home. See your dentist at least twice a year for routine cleanings and to check for cavities and gum disease.
If you do have some form of gum disease, your dentist will recommend in-office treatment. These treatments can include a deep cleaning below the gum line as well as a prescription anti-microbial mouth rinse. Remember to brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.