Periodontal disease more often referred to as gum disease, is an oral health condition that occurs when plaque and tartar buildup at the gums irritates the tissue, leading to a breakdown between the supportive soft tissue and bone. Gum disease occurs in 47 percent of Americans over the age of 30. With proper at-home dental care and regular trips to the dental office, most patients can prevent gum disease, but it’s important to have an understanding of gum disease including its causes, signs, risks, as well as how it is treated.
At Transcend Dental, we specialize in gum disease treatment as well as helping or patients take the right steps in preventing the disease with regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene. In this blog, we’re going to share some helpful information about gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease
Gum disease is mostly caused by poor oral hygiene. When you follow a poor oral hygiene routine, it is easier for plaque, a sticky form of bacteria, to build up. While plaque build up can be removed with daily brushing, flossing, and routine dental checkup, if it is not properly removed, it can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by visiting a dentist for a cleaning.
Plaque and tartar are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Over time, this surplus of bacteria leads to an infection that forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth.
The Stages of Gum Disease
What many people don’t know, periodontal disease occurs in two basic stages, gingivitis and periodontitis. it is best to have the disease diagnosed in the former of these two stages when it is easiest to treat and whatever damage that has been done can typically be reversed. Let’s take a deeper look at the two:
- Gingivitis. The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis causes the gums to become red, swollen, and to bleed easily. This is a precursor to periodontitis, but with professional treatment and good oral home care, it can be reversed.
- Periodontitis. This is an advanced stage of gum disease. It can occur when the first stage, gingivitis, goes untreated. At this stage, the bacteria around the teeth begin to seep into the gum line, affecting the underlying bone. Once the bacteria reaches beneath the gums, it can begin to dissolve your jawbone, creating pockets around the teeth — a dental issue you don’t want to have to deal with!
What Are The Symptoms of Gum Disease
Depending on the case and stage of gum disease you are in, the symptoms could vary. Some are very minor, like slight irritation along your gum line or bleeding when you brush or floss, others are a little bit more severe. Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for that indicate you may have gum disease.
- Loose Teeth. Gum disease can cause your teeth to become loose when an infection gets beneath the gums and into your bone structure As the problem intensifies, the gum pockets become deeper.` This is because the bacteria from gingivitis and periodontitis are causing the body’s immune system to attack the gum tissue and bone around the teeth.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums. The bacteria that cause gum inflammation may make your gums become red, swollen or tender. For many people with gingivitis, this inflammation does not cause pain.
- Bad breath. If you have bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing, it may be a sign of gum disease. Bad breath may be caused by plaque and bacteria buildup in your mouth.
- Sensitive teeth. Gum disease may be causing the tooth sensitivity you are experiencing. This occurs when the more sensitive inside part of your tooth, dentin, is no longer protected by enamel or gums. This leaves the sensitive part of your tooth exposed.
- Receeding gums. If your teeth begin to appear longer, it is likely that your gums are receding. When the more your gum tissue erodes, the more your tooth’s root is exposed.
Risks That Lead To Gum Disease
While most patients can avoid gum disease with regular dental cleanings and proper dental hygiene, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Misaligned or “crooked” teeth that are hard to keep clean
- Certain Medications
Gum Treatment and Periodontal Procedures
If your dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, there are a variety of available options for treatment. Below, we’ll review some of the most common gum treatments and procedures.
If gum disease is caught in the early stages, it is more likely that dentists will be able to treat, or even reverse, the problem with non-surgical gum disease procedures. These include professional dental cleanings to remove harmful plaque and tartar from the teeth and scaling and root planing which effectively eliminates plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. Then, the root surfaces of your teeth are smoothed, or planed, to allow the gum tissue to heal and properly reattach to the teeth.
Surgical Treatment Options
Non-surgical treatments don’t work for everyone, and sometimes surgical intervention may be necessary to achieve optimal dental health. The most common surgeries related to periodontal health include:
Gum Graft Surgery – grafting tissue from the roof of the mouth to repair exposed tooth roots from receding gums
Dental Crown Lengthening – reshaping gum tissue to expose more of the natural tooth for a more natural smile.
Dental Implants – this periodontal procedure involves replacing missing teeth with a surgically inserted root and crown or bridge
Regenerative Periodontal Procedures – removing bacteria from the gums and adding stimulating proteins to encourage bone and tissue regeneration
Schedule a Dental Appointment at Transcend Dental
If you think you may have gum disease, schedule an appointment at our Royersford dental office and meet with our team of friendly dental professionals to discuss your oral health needs. We work to make sure your dental procedures are as painless and easy as possible, so contact us today to schedule your consultation.