Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. It is one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults and because it is practically painless, most sufferers are unaware that they have the disease. When you go for checkups, your dentist will measure the space between your teeth and gums to check for signs of periodontal disease.
What causes gum disease?
The primary cause of gum disease is a build-up of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that grows on the teeth). Plaque left to grow will produce toxins that can damage the gums, so you need to remove it through constant flossing, brushing, and regular dental check-ups.
Periodontal disease usually forms right under the gum line and produces little pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. It has two stages namely: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease when the gums become red and swollen, causing it to bleed easily. That results in plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth.
Periodontitis is very much capable of causing more harm to the gum pockets and infection of the bone tissue. Gingivitis will advance into a stage called periodontitis if left untreated. The ensuing result is that the gums and bone will no longer be able to support the teeth. And it will become severely and permanently damaged leading to the loosening or completely fall out of the entire teeth.
Some of the factors responsible for increasing a patient’s risk of developing disease includes:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Some types of medication like steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
Even though you may not be aware that you have periodontal disease, 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
The treatment for gum disease varies depending on the severity of each patient’s case. Examples of gum disease treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatments like at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
- Dental implants
Preventing Gum Disease
Protect yourself from gum disease by preventing it completely. Depending on the seriousness of the disease our dentist may advise you to go for more professional dental cleanings, improved at-home oral hygiene, antibiotic treatment, scaling and root planning (deep cleanings), or gum surgery good oral hygiene at home. Visit your dentist at least two times a year for routine cleanings and to inspect for signs of cavities and gum disease.
Your dentist will recommend in-office treatment for you if they notice you have any traces of gum disease. You may have to undergo treatments requiring deep cleaning under the gum line and also a prescription anti-microbial mouth rinse. Always brush your teeth regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and book regular appointments with your dentist to maintain a healthy smile.