Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, it may remain unattended until it causes tissue damage and destructin. During each regular checkup, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (a sticky clear film formed on tooth surface). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental cleaning), 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. It has twocommon forms: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis — This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is easily treatable.
- Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, and the gums and supporting tissues may become seriously and irreversibly damaged. This condition can eventually result in tooth mobility and /or even tooth loss.
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
- Tooth mobility
- 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 scaling & root planing (deep cleaning). It can be accompanied with topical or systemic medication.
- Periodontal surgery
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important for maintaininga healthy gum. 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, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits.