Gum disease also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. It is caused by plaque build up around teeth and gums. The bacteria present in plaque are deposited along the gum line, thus irritating gums and causing them to pull away from teeth. This results in deep pockets around teeth which become susceptible to more plaque and tartar.
The two stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form and only affects the gums. Although reversible, it can lead to periodontitis, the more serious form of the disease. Periodontitis affects the bones that support teeth and can lead to tooth loss. While it is possible to have gum disease and not have any warning signs, the most common symptoms of gum disease include:
Gums that bleed easily
Gums that are swollen, tender and red
Persistent bad breath or foul taste in mouth
Change in how teeth or dentures fit together when you bite
Loose or separating teeth
First Stage: Gingivitis The early stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. This affects the gums around the teeth by making them red and swollen. This is one of the first symptoms that appear. In addition, gums tend to bleed easily, especially when brushing and flossing, although it is possible they may bleed spontaneously or even when eating. Gingivitis is reversible and dental care treatment includes more thorough brushing and flossing, and regular cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist. Second Stage: Periodontitis If left untreated, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, the more advanced stage of gum disease. Without proper treatment from a periodontologist, advanced gum disease causes teeth to become loose, thus resulting in tooth loss. Periodontitis treatment involves the removal of plaque and tartar buildup known as root planing and scaling. Depending on the severity of the disease, antibiotics may also be necessary to eliminate any infection. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
Simple Steps Make a Big Difference Preventing gum disease is essential, since dental health issues can lead to poor overall health. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is through routine dental care. A few minutes of preventative dental care every day can spare you hours, weeks and months of pain and cost. This is as simple as brushing at least twice daily, flossing every day and visiting your dentist every six months. Regular visits to the dentist aid in the prevention of gum disease as well. During a routine checkup at the dentist, a common procedure called periodontal probing is performed to check for gum disease. It also helps your dentist or dental care specialist determine the overall health of your mouth, thereby making it an important part of your dental checkup.