Chances are you or someone you know has a form of gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of middle-aged adults have gum disease. And the chances of developing the condition increase as you age, with 70% of the senior citizen population suffering from this condition.
Despite the number of people struggling with this problem, it can cause severe problems if left untreated. The earliest stages of gum disease can simply cause irritated gums that bleed easily. But when gum disease is ignored it can eventually form into periodontal disease, and in its most severe form, cause your teeth to loosen or fall out.
The good news is that you can prevent gum problems, reduce your risk of oral health issues, and have a smile that will give you a reason to grin by regularly visiting a dentist near you.
In this blog, our dentists will explain everything you need to know about gum disease and provide helpful information to avoid and treat it.
What Is Gum Disease and What Causes It?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection involving the gums and sometimes the bone that surrounds a tooth. It’s most often caused by plaque—a thick film of bacteria that forms on your gums and teeth.
Our mouths are full of bacteria, and they love feeding on the little bits of food and drinks we consume. It’s perfectly normal to have plaque in your mouth, but it’s not good for it to live there, which is why you should brush and floss between your teeth daily.
If plaque is not removed, it can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets in which more bacteria can collect. This plaque can eventually harden and build up, forming tartar in your mouth—a cement-like substance that a normal scrub with a toothbrush can’t clean. Once plaque forms into tartar, you’ll need to visit a dentist near you for a deep cleaning to remove these deposits and stop gum disease from evolving. If left untreated, all of this plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis (early gum disease) or periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
The Stages of Gum Disease
Let’s look at the different stages of gum disease, so you can better understand why it’s important to stop it in its tracks.
Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Or, frustratingly enough, you could show no symptoms at all, which is why regular check-ins with a dentist near you are crucial. The good news is that if caught early, it is reversible. Gingivitis can usually be treated with a professional deep cleaning in addition to regular oral hygiene.
If not treated properly, gingivitis can evolve into periodontitis—a much more dangerous form of gum disease that can cause an infection that destroys the bone supporting your teeth. If it reaches this point, it may lead to tooth loss, bleeding gums, abscesses, and bad breath. But, it won’t just affect your mouth. Gum disease is an active bacterial infection that can access other organs through your bloodstream. Studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.
Symptoms You Should Look Out For
Not sure if you have gum disease or a gum infection? Here are some warning signs you should look out for:
- Gums that are sensitive to touch, swollen or red
- Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
- Receding gums, exposing more of the tooth than previously visible
- Frequent bad breath
- Pus coming from gums
- Changes to the fit of your bite or dentures
- A feeling of loose teeth
How the Deep Cleaning Process Works to Combat Gingivitis
Treatment of your gum disease will depend on what stage it’s in. Fortunately, if it’s in its early form (gingivitis), treatment can be as simple as a deep cleaning from a dental professional.
Dental deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing, involves special techniques to get rid of plaque, tartar, and bacteria below the gum line down to your tooth roots. Unlike a regular cleaning, a deep cleaning is slightly more complex and is intended to stop tooth loss and prevent gum disease from advancing.
During your cleaning, your dentist will use a hand-held dental scaler to manually scrape the plaque from your teeth above and below your gum line. They may also use an ultrasonic tool with a vibrating metal tip, plus a water spray to wash tartar away. Root planing is when your dentist will smooth rough spots on the roots of your teeth to make it harder for bacteria to stick to them in the future. Depending on the extent of the disease, an antibiotic gel is sometimes applied to the teeth during the cleaning to kill hard-to-reach germs; other times, oral antibiotics or a special antibiotic mouth rinse might be prescribed to you to help you combat the disease at home.
If your gum disease has been left untreated for some time, a deep cleaning might not be enough to tackle the issue. In some cases, you may require surgical or restorative procedures. No matter how far your gum disease has progressed, it’s a great idea to check in with a dentist near you for a thorough assessment.
Prevent Gum Disease By Visiting A Fort Worth Dentist Near You
If it’s been a while since your last checkup, or just simply would like your dentist to diagnose the healthiness of your gums, book an appointment online with us today. Our friendly practitioners are here to help you wherever you’re at on your oral health journey, and will provide you with treatment options that will leave you with healthy, happy gums that last a lifetime.