Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection and destruction of the gums and bone 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 checkup, our team 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 buildup of plaque, a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If the plaque is not removed by flossing, brushing and regular dental checkups, it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums and surrounding bone. Periodontal disease forms as the level of bacteria increases in the pocket between the tooth and the gums. 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. In this stage, the disease is reversible and can usually be eliminated by improving daily brushing and flossing habits.
- Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis and the bone that supports the teeth will become irreversibly damaged. The bone destruction caused by periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose or fall out.
Certain factors can increase a patient's risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Crooked teeth
- Iatrogenic dentistry
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
- Loose permanent teeth
Treating Gum Disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of the case. Typically, the first phase of treatment is scaling and root planing, also known as a deep cleaning. This procedure is performed in our office and involves numbing the area well and cleaning bacteria and deposits out from below the gum. Depending on how your mouth responds to the deep cleaning, we may refer you to a gum specialist (periodontist) to see if a simple gum surgery will help your condition.
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. You don't have to lose teeth to periodontal disease and by practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of ever getting gum disease. Remember to brush regularly, floss and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.