What is Gum Disease?
Gingivitis is the medical term for early gum disease, or periodontal disease. In general, gum disease can be caused by long-term exposure to plaque, the sticky but colorless film on teeth that forms after eating or sleeping.
Gum disease originates in the gums, where infections form from harmful bacteria and other materials left behind from eating. Early warning signs include chronic bad breath, tender or painful swollen gums and minor bleeding after brushing or flossing. In many cases, however, gingivitis can go unnoticed. The infections can eventually cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating even greater opportunities for infection and decay.
Although gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults, in many cases it is avoidable.
If gingivitis goes untreated, more serious problems such as abscesses, bone loss or periodontitis can occur.
Periodontitis is treated in a number of ways. One method, called root planing, involved cleaning and scraping below the gum line to smooth the roots. If effective, this procedure helps the gums reattach themselves to the tooth structure. However, not all instances of scaling and root planing successfully reattach the tooth to the gums. Additional measures may be needed if the periodontal pockets persist after scaling and root planing
Pregnancy has also been known to cause a form of gingivitis. This has been linked to hormonal changes in the woman's body that promote plaque production.
Gum Disease and Treatment
Many adults in the US currently have some form of gum disease. Minor cases of gum disease may only cause inflammation, while more severe cases cause damage to the tissue and bones, resulting in tooth loss.
Our mouths contain a lot of bacteria. Bacteria, mucus and other particles cause sticky plaque to form on our teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed with proper brushing and flossing, it can harden to form tartar. Once plaque turns to tartar, the only way to remove it is with a professional dental cleaning. Regular brushing will not be enough. Plaque and tartar that remain on teeth are harmful. Over time the gums will become inflamed and bleed easily. This is known as gingivitis—a mild form of gum disease. Gingivitis can be reversed by brushing and flossing daily, and with regular dental cleaning.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can become periodontitis, which causes inflammation around teeth. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form deep infected pockets. Your immune system will begin to fight the infection; however, between the bacteria and your body’s defense system, bones and connective tissue begin to breakdown, causing serious damage and tooth loss.
There are several risk factors for gum disease including smoking, diabetes, certain medications and genetics. However, gum disease can be treated with a variety of different methods:
- Scaling and rooting planing: This is one of the most effective and common ways to treat gum disease. Scaling removes any dental tartar from your teeth, while root planing treats the infected pockets.
- Antibiotics: Oral or topical antibiotics may be used to treat periodontal infections or to control the bacteria.
- Periodontal Laser Treatment: This treatment removes inflamed pockets and decreases bacterial growth. Laser therapy in conjunction with scaling and root planing can be an effective gum disease treatment.
- Dental Implants: This long-term solution for replacing missing teeth has become one of the preferred methods for tooth loss treatment. A small titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone and is given time to allow the surrounding bone and tissue to fuse with it. Finally, an artificial tooth is placed over the screw to complete your smile.
Gum disease prognosis depends significantly on how well you care for your teeth and gums. Visiting our office for regular checkups and cleaning, as well as maintaining good oral health, will guarantee that your teeth and gums remain healthy.
For more information on Gum Disease in the Old Bridge, NJ area call Personal Choice Dental at (732) 727-1211 today!