Gum Disease Treatment Questions and Answers
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects nearly 80% of our population, yet very few people know that they have this problem. Visit us at Great Smiles Family Dentistry today and get the dental care that you need! Call us today to book your appointment. We serve patients from Toledo OH, Oregon OH, Rossford OH, Pearson OH, Ottawa Hills OH, and Woodhurst OH.
Gum disease is an extremely prevalent condition affecting four out of every five adults. It is a serious infection that damages the soft tissues of the mouth. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. It can also cause teeth to loosen, and even fall out.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth and is caused by the expansion of germs called bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in a clear, sticky substance called plaque that your mouth produces.
The bacteria in plaque prey on sugars within the foods you eat and drink and make poisons (toxins) and other chemicals. The toxins aggravate your gums, causing them to swell and easily bleed when brushed.
In time, plaque can harden into a buildup called tartar or calculus. This irritates the gums even more and causes them to tug faraway from your teeth.
Factors that increase your risk of gum disease include:
- Not cleaning your teeth well regularly and not receiving regular dental cleanings.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco. People that use tobacco are far more likely to develop gum disease than those that don’t. They even have more serious gum disease that results in tooth loss and is tough to treat.
- Having gum disease in your family.
- Having a disease or condition that weakens your system, like a high stress level or diseases like diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia.
- Eating a diet that’s low in vitamins and minerals can weaken your system, especially when high sugary foods and carbohydrates are consumed, which produce the perfect breeding ground for plaque to grow.
How do dentists treat gum disease?
Gum disease is very hard to see in its early stages and you may not even know that there is a problem. However, every time you undergo a dental exam, your dentist will look for signs of gum disease.
To measure where your gums attach to your teeth, your dentist may use a dental tool called a “periodontal probe”. Healthy gums attach to teeth just below the edge of the gum, but it is a sign of gum disease if your gums attach to your teeth below this point.
X-rays show how much bone is around your teeth, and getting rid of plaque and tartar gives your gums a chance to get better if you have gum disease. That’s why in the early stages of gum disease, the best treatment is brushing twice a day to remove plaque, flossing once a day to remove plaque and a cleaning by your dentist to remove built-up tartar.
Your dentist may refer you to a dental specialist called a periodontist when gum disease is more serious. These specialists have at least 3 years of extra training in the treatment of gum disease, and in the restoration and regeneration of bone and gum tissue that have been lost due to gum disease.
A periodontist also treats serious forms of gum disease that do not get better with normal dental care, so when serious gum disease is found, brushing and flossing become even more important.
What happens if you leave gum disease untreated?
Gum disease left untreated can lead to gingivitis, the most mild version of gum disease. The telltale sign of gingivitis is red and swollen gum that bleed when brushed. Gingivitis can be reversed with proper dental care, but if left untreated can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis. This occurs when the plague spreads and starts to grow underneath the gums, significantly weakening the integrity of the teeth. It can lead to loose teeth, as well as cause teeth to fall out completely.
What are the stages of gum disease?
The four stages of gum disease are:
Gingivitis — The only stage of gum disease that can be easily reversed and remedied.
Slight periodontal disease — The second stage of gum disease, slight periodontitis starts to destroy bones and is not reversible but is manageable.
Moderate periodontal disease — In the third stage of gum disease, the bacteria present move beyond the bones and start to affect the blood stream and immune system.
Advanced periodontal disease — The fourth and final stage of gum disease is the most serious, with a 50-90% chance of bone loss. The gums go beyond redness and swelling and start to ooze pus, are extremely sensitive to cold and cause halitosis (bad breath).
If you or someone you know has gum disease, don’t let it worsen! Come to Great Smiles Family Dentistry today! Our kind and compassionate staff are experienced in treating gum disease and can help you save your teeth and restore your dental health! Contact our office today to talk with a member of our specialist team. Go online or simply give us a call to book an appointment with us today!