What You Need to Know About Gum Disease (and How Periodontics Can Help)
Periodontal or gum disease is a fairly common condition that many Americans suffer from. But what exactly is gum disease?
Here is what you need to know about gum disease (and how periodontics can help).
Imagine your mouth as an ecosystem with different bacteria thriving inside of it. These microorganisms, plus the mucus and particles in your mouth, create plaque. Ideally, you can remove plaque from your mouth through regular brushing and flossing. However, plaque can harden and turn into tartar when you have poor oral hygiene habits. In this case, your only recourse is to have your teeth cleaned by a professional.
Left unchecked, both plaque and tartar can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. The bacteria that create plaque can also cause the inflammation of the gums—a condition known as gingivitis. Among the symptoms of this condition are red, swollen gums that are susceptible to bleeding. Gingivitis is classified as a mild form of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, you can restore optimal gum health through proper brushing and flossing as well as regular visits to the dentist. Otherwise, you risk losing bone and tissue that hold your teeth.
Gingivitis can escalate into periodontitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the tissue around the tooth. People who succumb to periodontitis have gums that are pulled away from the teeth. This condition can also lead to the formation of spaces. Although the body’s immune system works doubly hard to ward off the bacteria that is wreaking havoc on your teeth and gums, the bone and connective tissue of the teeth become the major casualties in this battle. Left untreated, periodontitis can lead to the destruction of the tissue that support the teeth. It is also possible to lose teeth if you have periodontitis.
Gum disease typically occurs to adults aged between 30 and 40. Teens, however, may suffer from gingivitis. Among the most vulnerable to gum disease are smokers, diabetics, people suffering from some diseases, patients taking medications that reduce the flow of saliva, and women who are undergoing hormonal changes. Also, there are some people who are genetically predisposed to be prone to gum disease.
Apart from its impact on oral health, studies suggest that gum disease makes patients more vulnerable to heart disease and blood sugar issues.
Patients who suffer from gum disease may experience symptoms like bad breath, red and swollen gums, bleeding gums, tooth loss, painful chewing, teeth sensitivity and receding gums. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is best to consult a dentist who specializes in gum health. Your dentist will look at your medical history and lifestyle and conduct a thorough check on your gum health. He may also recommend the use of x-rays to determine whether you have suffered from bone loss.
Periodontists can treat gum disease in a variety of ways. Overall, the goal of these specialists is to contain the infection. More often than not, this will entail a combination of good oral hygiene practices at home, lifestyle modifications and treatments at the dental office. These treatments include deep cleaning, the use of medications, and surgical treatments.