Everyone’s mouth is full of bacteria. Consequently, we need to brush twice daily and floss to remove it or we set the stage for gum disease. If the bacterial is allowed to build up, it will create a sticky film on the teeth. In the long run, that film can cause plaque and even cavities. The plaque hardens to tartar over time. This tarter builds up and needs to be removed.
We have all had our teeth cleaned at the dentist, hopefully twice a year. Regular cleaning and routine exams remove the tartar that builds up. This is especially important near the gum line where we typically miss in brushing. If your dental hygiene is not as good as it should be, if you do not have consistent professional dental care, or if you have a genetic predisposition to gum disease, your gums may show signs of gingivitis.
Nearly half of adult Americans suffer from gum disease. Gum disease can impact other health conditions such as heart disease, COPD, diabetes, pregnancy, and other inflammatory diseases. Untreated gum disease is linked to preterm birth and babies with low birthweight. Research has shown that there is a link between the progression of gum disease and development of more serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and more.
Gum disease begins with gingivitis. Signs of gingivitis could be red swollen gums that easily bleed They may bleed when you brush or floss. In the early stages, you may not have symptoms at all. You could have gingivitis without even knowing it. If it is treated early, gingivitis is reversible.
Treatment for gingivitis
Gingivitis is ultimately inflammation. The goal of treatment is to minimize this inflammation. The best treatment is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day. Be sure to brush well along the gum line. You should also floss daily. Your dentist can show you the proper techniques for brushing and flossing. It is important that you allow your dentist to do a professional cleaning on a regular basis. The dentist will remove all the plaque and tartar from the gumline. Finally, finishing with antiseptic mouthwash will reduce the bacterial in your mouth. The dentist may even prescribe a mouthwash for you.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque accumulating on the teeth spread to the gumline. These bacteria release toxins that irritate and inflame the gums even more. This triggers a chronic inflammatory response in the body. This response damages the gum tissue and bone that keep the teeth in place. This gum tissue and bone is called the periodontium.
Untreated gingivitis could lead to periodontal disease, also called periodontitis. Periodontitis is severe gum disease. Ultimately it can lead to tooth and bone loss. As the gums break down, they pull away from the teeth, creating gum pockets. These gaps can become infected by bacteria in the mouth, causing even more tissue damage. It is an infection of the gum and the bone that supports your teeth.
Treatment for periodontitis
Treatment for periodontitis includes all the treatments for gingivitis. When periodontal disease is a concern, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning is also called root planing, scaling, gum therapy, or SRP. The deep cleaning treatment cleans between the gum and the tooth, down to the roots. A deep cleaning can cause some discomfort and the dentist will typically offer you a topical or local anesthetic to numb your gums. It may require several visits to deep clean part of your mouth at a time. It is especially designed to treat gum disease and stop it from becoming worse. In addition to deep cleaning your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.
Progression of gum disease
Periodontitis does not happen overnight. It occurs in stages. It will cause gums to be inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed. You might struggle with persistant bad breath. Your teeth can become sore. You may experience tooth sensitivity. Your teeth may even become loose or change position. It could begin to hurt when you chew. The gums begin to recede, or pull away, from the teeth.
Receding gums leave behind spaces called pockets that can then become infected. As these pockets get deeper, the teeth can loosen. These deeper pockets can mean it is harder to reach the bacteria on your daily brushing.
Gum disease takes a toll
Gum disease affects not just the mouth, but the whole body. It’s amazing how hard your body can work to fight off systemic infection, and what a toll it can take on your energy levels and overall health. Periodontitis is, quite literally, a symptom of your body destroying itself in a desperate attempt to fight off a chronic infection.
In addition to poor oral hygiene practices and lack of professional dental care, there are other risk factors for gum disease:
- Tobacco Use
- Substance Abuse
- Genetic Tendencies
- Men are More Likely than Women
- Predominantly Diagnosed in Adults
- Lack of Education
- Hormone changes
- Misaligned Teeth
- Poor nutrition
- Dry Mouth
- Improperly Fitting Appliances or Dental Work
- Excessive Alcohol Use
- Certain Medications
- Cancer Drugs
- Epilepsy Drigs
- Oral Contraceptives
- Calcium Channel Blockers for Blood Pressure
Gum disease has its best prognosis when it is treated early. The patient must maintain the oral hygiene habits at home to completely heal the gums. You should see your dentist regularly and maintain your follow up visits. With gum disease you may need more frequent visits to your dentist. Come see us at Danville Family Dentistry and we can assess your gum health and help prevent or reverse gum disease. Contact us today!
Are you on Facebook? We are, too! Let’s be friends!
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.