Gum Disease Explained
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common dental problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Even with our balanced and nutritious diet options in Canada, no one is immune to this malady. Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. It can lead to tooth loss, and it has also been linked to other long term life altering health problems.
In this blog post, we will discuss how people get dreaded gum disease, the effects of it, and how you can tell if you have attracted it. We will also explore how we make a dental diagnosis, treatment approaches, and options when you have it.
How People Get Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque. This is a sticky film of bacteria that attaches itself to your teeth. Plaque can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums, which can then lead to the development of gum disease. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes can also increase the risk of developing this condition.
The Effects of Gum Disease
Like other important dental problems, gum disease can have serious effects on not only your immediate dental health but your overall long-term health as well. In the early stages, it presents with gum inflammation, redness, and bleeding. As the disease progresses, it can cause gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss.
All these problems lead to expensive dental treatment. Gum disease is connected to additional health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Pregnant women need to be extremely cautious as the condition has also been linked to premature births and low birth weight.
How to Tell If You Have Gum Disease
The early stages of gum disease may not have any noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, you may experience the following signs:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Receding gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to get to your dentist as soon as possible so they can perform a thorough examination and determine if you have initial or progressive gum disease.
To make a diagnosis, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums, measure the depth of the pockets around your teeth, and take X-rays to check for any bone loss. The depth of the pockets around your teeth is an indication of the health of your gums. Healthy gums have pockets that are 1-3 millimeters deep. If an inspection finds deeper gum pockets, it may indicate the presence of gum disease.
Treatment Approaches and Options
The treatment approach will depend on the severity of the disease. In the early stages, gum disease can be treated with a professional cleaning (known as scaling and root planning). This procedure removes the plaque and tartar from the teeth and roots and smooths the tooth root surfaces to prevent bacteria from adhering to them. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to control the bacterial infection as a precaution or if suspected.
In more advanced cases of gum disease, surgical treatment may be necessary. This can include procedures such as pocket reduction surgery, bone grafting, and gum grafting. In severe cases a referral to a periodontist may be required.
What Happens When Left Untreated
Left untreated, gum disease makes it more difficult to clean your teeth properly, which leads to further worsening of the problem. The buildup of plaque and bacteria can cause bad breath, accelerate tooth decay, and bring about other dental problems too.
In addition, it can make your teeth more sensitive and cause you pain and discomfort when eating or drinking. Sore, inflamed, and receding gums can also cause your teeth to shift or become loose, which can affect your bite and make it more difficult to chew your food properly.
So, to prevent gum disease, it is important to practice good oral hygiene at home and see your dentist regularly. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss every day, and use any other dentist recommended oral aids. Quit smoking if you are a smoker and manage any medical conditions that may increase your risk of developing gum disease.
If you suspect that you have gum disease, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible. A Markic Dental professional can perform a thorough examination and determine the overall condition of your gums. Treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the disease and may include a professional cleaning, antibiotics, or surgical treatment. The earlier you seek treatment, the better your chances of preventing serious damage to your teeth and gums.