What is Gum Disease and When to be Concerned

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is the disease of the tissue that surrounds and supports the root of the teeth. This is caused by bacterial plaque (a soft sticky film of bacteria) which has been built up and hardened (tartar formation), usually due to poor personal dental hygiene habits.

Soft bacterial plaque can be removed by brushing teeth regularly. But, hardened tartar cannot be removed by brushing. Therefore, if the person has poor oral hygiene habits, hardened tartar may form. Afterward, tartar becomes a place where more bacteria can grow. As this goes on, bacteria growth reaches deeper and deeper into the root of the tooth. And there develops a gap between gum and the tooth.

Types of gum disease

Generally, gingivitis, otherwise known as inflammation of the gums is the first stage of gum disease. At this stage, bacterial plaque build-up creates inflammation of the gums. The gums may start to easily bleed or incur pain during teeth brushing.

At this stage, while the gums may feel irritated, there is no permanent damage to the bone or other tissue. Therefore, if gingivitis is diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, it is reversible.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis. Periodontitis is when the gum and the bone pull away from each other, and form pockets. These pockets then collect dirt and bacteria, and likely get infected. When the body fights with infection, toxins produced both by the bacteria, and the body fighting infection, destroy both bone and gum tissue around the infection. If this goes long enough, tooth loss occurs, due to loss of support of the root of the tooth. Gum disease is quite common and is the main reason adults end up losing teeth.

Symptoms of gum disease

- Gums bleeding

- Swollen, red or tender gums

- Loose teeth, “shifting” teeth

- Teeth moving out of proper alignment

- “Pockets” between teeth and gum line

- Constant bad breath or bad taste in the mouth

- Receding gum line, or teeth looking longer than normal

It is also worth noticing that not all symptoms may be noticeable by the person with the gum disease, without a dental examination. Also, gum disease may only affect certain areas, like molars, at the way back of the mouth.

How is gum disease treated?

If gum disease is treated early on by a dentist and at the gingivitis stage, treatment is pretty straightforward. Generally, the dentist cleans any plaque-tartar formation professionally. And then, gives advice about how to properly brush teeth, floss etc.

If gum disease is diagnosed at a later stage, more complicated procedures like surgery may be necessary. Even then, some of the damage may be irreversible. It is best to prevent and diagnose and treat gum disease, as early as possible through proper oral hygiene practices as well as regularly visiting the dentist for check-ups.

Should I be concerned about gum disease?

For most healthy adults who brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and visit their dentist twice a year, gum disease shouldn’t be a major issue. Gum disease may either be prevented by proper dental hygiene or if diagnosed at early stages, can be treated quickly.

However, there are certain risk factors worth mentioning:

- Smoking

- Diabetics

- Medication that causes dry mouth as a side effect

- Hormonal changes (such as puberty or menopause)

- Bad dental hygiene (not brushing teeth regularly)

As with any dental health issue, it is always a good idea to brush and floss your teeth daily, and visit your dentist every six months.

If there are any other questions that you may have, give us a call today! We’re happy to assist in any way that we can.

Request an appointment here: https://www.familydentistryonline.net or call Old Alabama Dental Care at (770) 200-4032 for an appointment in our Alpharetta office.

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