What is Gum Disease?
Periodontitis, commonly called gum disease, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth. If not properly treated, this could lead to tooth loss due to the destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. Gingivitis is gum inflammation and generally precedes periodontitis. However, it is important to note that not all gingivitis progresses into periodontitis.
In the beginning stages of gingivitis, bacteria builds up, causing the gums to become inflamed and easily irritated. That being said, your teeth are still firmly planted and no irreversible damage has been done.
What happens if I don’t treat Gum Disease?
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis. When a person has periodontitis, their inner layer of gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. It is in these pockets that debris can get caught, which is how it can become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.
The toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque, and the body’s enzymes (which are fighting the infection) start to break down the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place. This with eventually deepen the pockets, causing more destruction to the bone and gum tissue. It is when this happens that the teeth are no longer anchored in place. The teeth become loose, and this is where tooth loss begins. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.
What causes Gum Disease?
While plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, other factors can contribute.
- Smoking, as this makes it harder for the gum tissue to repair itself.
- Certain illnesses such as: HIV or cancer that interfere with the body’s immune system.
- Hormonal changes make gums more sensitive; this makes it easier for gingivitis to develop
- Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing daily, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
Gum disease can progress painlessly, even into the late stages, often producing a few visible signs. However, despite the symptoms of periodontal often being subtle, the condition isn’t entirely without warning signs. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Bad breath, or bad taste in the mouth
- Bleeding gums, while and after brushing teeth
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
The biggest goal for gum disease treatment is to promote the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth, reduce the depth of the pockets, swelling, and risk of infection. Treatment options are based on the stage of the disease, and your overall health options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to repair supportive tissues.
How can I prevent Gum Disease?
Dental checkups and periodontal examinations are essential. Proper dental care at home is necessary to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more severe or recurring. You don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. Eat a balanced diet, clean between your teeth daily, brush your teeth twice a day, and schedule regular dental visits at St. Romain Dentistry for a lifetime of healthy smiles.