Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums, bones, and other tissues surrounding your teeth. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other severe health conditions like heart disease if left untreated.
Early Signs of Gum Disease
Periodontitis begins with inflammation in the gums, which causes them to swell and bleed easily. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. As the condition progresses, the bacteria from the mouth spread into the bloodstream, causing an immune response in the body. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy tissue around the infected area, leading to bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
Here are some common symptoms of gum disease to watch for:
- Bleeding gums: One of the first signs to check for periodontal disease is any unusual bleeding when brushing or flossing. Bleeding occurs when the gums become inflamed and swollen.
- Loose teeth: When the gums become diseased, they pull away from the roots of the teeth, weakening the attachment point and allowing the teeth to move out of place.
- Bad breath: Bad breath often accompanies gum disease because the bacteria spreads to other parts of the mouth.
- Receding gums: This occurs when the gums recede from the teeth, exposing more root surfaces than normal.
- Tooth sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity occurs when the nerves inside the tooth become irritated by bacteria. It’s usually caused by poor oral hygiene, but it can also be a sign of periodontal disease.
Call us right away if you notice any of these symptoms. We will perform a thorough exam and recommend treatment options based on your individual needs.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Here are some of the most common causes of periodontitis:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Bacterial plaque is the primary culprit behind gum disease. Plaque forms when food particles stick to the surface of the teeth and remain there long enough to form a sticky film. If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, bacteria may begin to multiply, leading to gum disease.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes tend to develop periodontitis at a younger age than those without diabetes. Diabetes increases blood sugar levels, leading to increased mouth acidity. Acidic saliva helps bacteria grow faster and stay alive longer.
- Smoking: Smoking weakens the immune system, making it easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause periodontitis.
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menstrual cycles, and menopause make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for bacteria to invade the gums.
Gum Disease Treatments
There are several treatments available for periodontal disease, depending on the severity of the problem.
Professional Dental Cleaning
A professional cleaning can reverse gingivitis when it is caught in its earliest stages. It is a non-invasive treatment that removes plaque from the teeth and gums. It is recommended that everyone see a dentist for a professional cleaning at least twice a year in order to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place.
This non-surgical procedure involves scaling and root planing. Scaling removes excess deposits and tartar from the surface of the teeth while a root planing procedure smooths out rough surfaces in order to improve blood flow to the roots.
Tissue regeneration involves using special tools to stimulate new tissue growth. The goal is to replace damaged gum tissue with healthy tissue that looks and feels like the original.
Grafting involves taking cells from another part of the patient’s body and placing them directly onto the affected area. This technique is only recommended for advanced stages of gum disease.
During this procedure, a small flap is lifted off the gum and sutured back down after removing the diseased tissue.
In severe cases of gum disease, bone grafting may be necessary to rebuild missing or damaged bone tissue. Bone grafting involves harvesting bone from other body parts and implanting it into the site where needed.
Oral Health Tips to Prevent Periodontal Disease
There are several preventative measures you can take to help protect yourself against gum disease
- Practice good oral care. Brushing regularly and using fluoride toothpaste removes bacterial plaque and tartar from your teeth and helps strengthen enamel, protecting teeth from decay.
- Visit your dentist every six months for regular checkups and oral hygiene procedures. Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of gum disease and other problems. Early detection and treatment can prevent serious complications such as loss of teeth.
- Limit sugary drinks. Sugary beverages increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because they contain sugar, which feeds bacteria. Limit soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks to no more than one serving per day. Instead, drink water or unsweetened tea.
- Avoid smoking. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that damage the gums and teeth.
Schedule a Consultation with Us Today!
If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, swollen gums, bad breath, or loose teeth, schedule an appointment with us today. We offer comprehensive dental care services to treat all types of periodontal diseases. Our team of experienced dentists and dental hygienists provides customized treatment plans to ensure our patients achieve a beautiful healthy smile.