Gum disease is medically known as periodontal disease. This condition is a chronic inflammatory infection of gum tissue. Plaque is a sticky, colorless coating that forms over teeth. By brushing and flossing regularly, you can keep plaque at bay. If you neglect this important activity, plaque eventually hardens into something called tartar. When these two substances remain on the teeth for a long time, they begin releasing toxins that inflame the gums, leading to an infection.
The presence of plaque and tartar leads to the formation of pockets in the gums, that contain bacteria. Bacteria thrives and grows, moving ever deeper into the gums toward the underlying bone tissue. The destruction of gum and bone eventually causes teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Gum Disease Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease may include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Gums that are tender or bleed
- Chronic bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
Gum Disease Treatment
After you have received a diagnosis of gum disease, you will likely begin immediate treatment. If you are in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis, you will likely need to undergo a special type of cleaning to descale your teeth. Your root surfaces may also need to be planed for cleaning.
Some patients are required to take antibiotics to prevent infection during this process. Patients typically respond well to this type of treatment for the resolution of gingivitis. If the condition progresses further, surgery may be needed.
Surgical gum disease treatment utilizes a laser to cut into the gums, allowing access to tartar found below the gum line. After all of the tartar has been removed from under the gum line, the dental professional will be contouring the bone and repositioning the gums so that you can effectively brush and floss your teeth.
Preventing Gum Disease
The most effective way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss every day to ensure that your teeth and gums remain clean. You also need to regularly visit your dentist for professional cleanings.
Some patients have certain risk factors that increase the odds that they will develop periodontal disease. For example, those who smoke cigarettes and chew tobacco are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Those who practice poor oral hygiene are also more likely to develop gum disease. There also those who are genetically inclined to develop the condition.