gum disease

Millions of Americans have gum disease but unfortunately, many of them don't know it. You may even be one of them. Also called periodontal disease, it's an infection of the tissues in the bone that supports your teeth.

Gum disease starts with the accumulation of plaque, a sticky substance that forms on your teeth after eating and drinking. If it's not cleared away by brushing and flossing, this bacteria-laden plaque hardens into tartar and becomes impossible to remove without professional dental care. Plaque and tartar's bacteria and toxins irritate your gums and cause inflammation and infection.

The stages of gum disease

Gum disease has two different stages. The first, gingivitis, is more easily treated. The other, periodontitis, is more dangerous and difficult to deal with.

You might not realize you have gingivitis because oftentimes there’s little to no discomfort at this stage. But if you notice any of the symptoms listed below, it's best to see your dentist as soon as possible. A professional dental cleaning and instructions on how to improve your oral hygiene routine is typically all that needs to be done for gingivitis.

Periodontitis occurs when your gingivitis goes untreated. The plaque on your teeth turns into tartar, also known as calculus. The tartar soon spreads and grows below your gum line and the toxins in it stimulate a chronic inflammatory response that leads to the destruction of the underlying bone and tissues.

The best way to treat periodontitis is to undergo flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts, receive route planning and scaling treatments, take antibiotics, and use prescription mouth rinses.

Symptoms of gum disease

People with gum disease often notice their gums are red, swollen, and tender. Other symptoms include:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pockets between the teeth and gums
  • Gum recession
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in bite

Gum disease has also been linked to more serious health problems including heart disease, strokes, and certain cancers. It is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults.

Are you at risk for gum disease?

Poor oral hygiene is the greatest factor in gum disease. Hormonal changes, teeth grinding, your age, certain illnesses, smoking, genes, a poor diet, and medications may also cause the condition.

Left unchecked, gum disease can lead to complete bone loss around your teeth. Like any chronic disease, it's best to catch gum disease in its early stages, before too much damage has been done to the bone. Your greatest risk may be in not doing anything when your gum disease is at the gingivitis stage.

How to prevent gum disease

The good news is that for most people gum disease is preventable. Brushing and flossing regularly can help you prevent gum disease or catch it early on, and it may help you reverse the effects of the early stages.

A periodontal examination should always be a part of your regular dental checkup. Routine checkups and screenings will help you monitor your gums at regular intervals in order to keep your mouth healthy.

Kanehl Dental Group offers a unique and comprehensive dental experience. If you want to learn more about gum disease, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.