Gum disease is a serious condition that can cause long-term health problems, but how can you spot the signs so you can start getting treatment right away?
What Is Gum Disease?
Periodontal (Gum) disease is common in many adults, and the disease can range from something as simple as gum inflammation all the way to a more serious disease, resulting in damage to the bone and tissue in the mouth.
How Can I Tell If I Have Gum Disease?
Some symptoms that may present themselves indicating gum disease are:
- Bleeding gums
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pockets between teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
What’s The Cause?
The bacteria in our mouth forms plaque on our teeth. When you brush or floss your teeth, you wash away the plaque. However, if the plaque remains on your teeth, it can harden and turn into tartar. Unfortunately, routine cleanings cannot remove the buildup of tartar, so the longer plaque or tartar stays on your teeth, the more damage it can do in the long run.
In addition, there are other risk factors that could increase your chances of developing gum disease. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease, which can even reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
Medications that reduce the production of saliva are also an added risk factor as well as family history. Each of these factors can play a significant role in the development of gum disease.
Who Gets Gum Disease Most Often?
Men are more likely to obtain gum disease than women. In addition, the condition usually presents itself in a person’s 30’s or 40’s. It can become prevalent for those that are younger as well, but a serious form of gum disease is less likely for younger people.
The First Stage of Disease
Gum disease presents itself in two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. When suffering from gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and in some (but not all) cases, bleed easily. At this stage of gum disease, there is no loss of bone or tissue that support your teeth.
If You Don’t Treat Gingivitis…
If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to a much more severe condition, called periodontitis. When suffering from periodontitis, the gum and bone begin to pull away from the teeth, forming “pockets.” Those pockets between the gum and the teeth collect debris and then become more infected.
When the immune system tries to fight against the bacteria, the disease attacks the bone and tissue that holds the teeth in place, resulting in painful bone loss.
What Are My Treatment Options?
The treatment for gum disease is heavily dependent on how far the disease has progressed. Gingivitis is relatively easy to manage. Regular flossing, brushing, and routine cleanings from your dental professional are the tactics used to treat gingivitis.
If gingivitis has been left untreated and has developed into periodontitis, the treatment options will typically be more aggressive.
Medication may be prescribed alongside deep cleaning to remove bacteria; however, if the damage is severe, surgery may be required to repair the pockets as well as the bone and tissue grafts. The surgery will help recover lost tissue.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from gum disease, the best option is to reach out to a dental professional in order to seek the treatment you need in a timely manner.