Proper gum maintenance is about keeping your oral health in check at all times. If they are untreated, the situation can become more severe and may result in tooth loss. But first, let’s go to the basics of gum disease.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection that affects your gum and bone tissues that keep your teeth in place. The bacteria in plaque slowly build up on your gums and teeth and if not removed can turn into tartar. As gum disease becomes more serious, it can cause your teeth to become loose and painful and eventually fall out.
Gum disease progresses in 3 main stages –
Stage 1: Gingivitis
The earliest stage of gum disease occurs when the gums become inflamed as a result of plaque buildup. If the plaque isn’t removed (by daily brushing and flossing) it can infect your gums and cause gingivitis. Symptoms include bleeding and sensitive gums. This stage of gum disease can be easily treated since it only affects the gums and not the bone tissue that supports your teeth.
Stage 2: Periodontis
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to the more serious stage known as periodontis. At this stage, your gum and bone tissues supporting your teeth are affected. Pockets will begin to develop below your gum line where plaque and food debris can get trapped. Proper oral hygiene and professional dental care can help stop further damage to your oral tissues.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontis
During this stage, your gum and bone tissues are so damaged that they can’t support your teeth anymore. This causes your teeth to shift and loosen. Teeth may even have to be removed if the damage is severe.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The best way to check for gum disease is visiting your dentist. During the examination, your dentist will check your gums for bleeding and tenderness. Your teeth and bite will also be evaluated. The key to fighting gum disease is detecting it early so it doesn’t progress to more serious forms. In the early stages, good oral hygiene is often enough to treat and reverse the development of gum disease. Brushing removes the sticky plaque on your tooth surfaces, while flossing removes the plaque between your teeth and gums.
However, if gum disease is allowed to progress, plaque buildup can turn into tartar, which can only be removed through professional cleaning by your dentist. If there’s bone loss or severe gum recession, ‘scaling’ and ‘root planning’ (SRP) may be required. Scaling involves scraping the plaque and tartar from above and below your gum line. Root planning smoothes uneven surfaces on your teeth’s roots so plaque and germs are less likely to form.
By brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist every 6 months, gum disease can be detected early and more easily treated. A healthy gum will benefit you for your entire life. Make sure it stays that way by contacting Dental Sphere with any questions you may have. If you think you have signs of gum disease, contact us to schedule an appointment.