Many adults in the U.S. currently have some form of gum disease . Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to more serious cases that result in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.
At Edgewood Dental Care in Edgewood, KY, we can keep you from developing gum disease and help you get rid of it if you have it.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammation of your gums caused by infection. It might not be something you’re keen to admit but our mouths are full of bacteria. That bacteria, along with other particles, causes a sticky plaque to form on teeth. Brushing and flossing can help keep plaque at bay. If plaque isn’t removed, it can harden and form tartar, a substance that mere brushing can’t remove. Only a professional cleaning can remove tartar.
Causes of gum disease include genetics, use of tobacco, poor dental hygiene, poor diet, hormonal changes, health conditions, and even medications that you take. In its first stages, gum disease may not have any symptoms. But once it has developed, gum disease symptoms include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, tender and/or swollen gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pus between the gums and teeth
Kinds Of Gum Disease
The terms “gingivitis” and “periodontitis” are often used interchangeably, but they are two different conditions along the spectrum of periodontal disease. Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums due to an excess of plaque on the teeth.
Periodontitis is a more serious gum disease in which the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, creating pockets where additional bacteria can build up and cause an infection.
Gingivitis usually precedes periodontitis but not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.
Gingivitis can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria in the plaque as it spreads and grows below the gumline. The bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place starts to break down. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth can be destroyed.
Other Dangers Of Gum Disease
Research has shown that people with gum disease (compared to people without gum disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar. That difficulty in maintaining blood sugar levels can result in diabetes.
Other studies have indicated that women with gum disease are more likely than those with healthy gums to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies.
Risk Factors For Gum Disease
- Smoking. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors in the development of gum disease. Smoking can also lower the chances of treatment being successful.
- Hormonal changes in females. These changes can make gums more sensitive, making it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing gum disease.
- Other illnesses and their treatments. Diseases such as AIDS and cancer and their treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums.
- Medications. Many medications can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth becomes vulnerable to infections like gum disease.
- Genetic susceptibility. Some people are just more prone to severe gum disease than others.
Prevention And Treatment
The best way to keep gum disease from happening is to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist for a routine exam every six months. We can remove tartar and look for any signs of gum disease developing before it gets too far.
If you do let your gum issues go too long and you develop periodontitis, we can treat it in a few ways.
First we can do a deep cleaning. We will start by scraping off the tartar that has built up on teeth both above and below the gumline. This is called tooth scaling. Then we will smooth out the rough spots on your tooth roots, which makes it harder for bacteria to collect and cause more plaque and tartar buildup.
We then apply an antibiotic called Arestin in your infected gum pockets. The antibiotic is released over a period of a week and offers continual healing of the infection.
At Edgewood Dental Care, we can also remove diseased parts of your gums with a laser. This technology is called LANAP. It removes the diseased tissue painlessly and without bleeding.