Gum Disease

Gum disease is an extremely common condition that affects nearly 75% of Americans in their lifetimes and can be especially serious for men. Gum disease is an infection of the gums, periodontal ligaments, and jawbone that occurs when a build-up of calculus (tartar) interferes with the healthy attachment between the teeth and gums. Pockets form between the gums and teeth where bacteria collect and can become infected, destroying the gums, tissue, and even bone at the site of the periodontitis.

 

Gum disease is prevented with good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings and checkups. It’s usually painless and invisible until symptoms present themselves. Typically, early gum disease (gingivitis) is accompanied by gum sensitivity or redness, or a drop or two of blood on your toothbrush. If left untreated, gum disease will progress eventually to periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease that can be painful and cause several long-term health problems.

In addition to bleeding gums, periodontitis (severe gum disease) is frequently accompanied by:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums or deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Changes in bite
  • Discomfort chewing

While these symptoms are typical of gum diseases, there may be other underlying health concerns only your dentist can diagnose and assist with treating gum disease and coordinating treatment with other health professionals.

Gingivitis is early gum disease, and it is reversible. It can be treated with more frequent cleanings and diligent flossing and brushing.

Your dentist may also recommend a deep cleaning or debridement, as well as a full periodontal evaluation, to be sure you do not require root scaling or planing to remove tartar and buildup above the gum line. At the Smile Center Family Dentistry, we will coordinate your care among our dentists and specialists – like periodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons – should your periodontal care require more aggressive techniques.

Gum disease that develops into periodontitis is accompanied by the formation of deep pockets along the gum line where bacteria collects, causing gum recession and tooth loss, and can cause severe health issues like facial bone loss and even heart disease. Untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss and increases the risk factors for a number of other illnesses, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Premature birth / low birth weight
  • Osteoporosis
  • Respiratory disease

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, men are far more likely to have gum disease than women (56% v.34%).  And men suffer more serious long-term health effect than women, namely:

  • Prostate problems
  • Impotence
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

Both men and women with gum disease have higher risk diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and respiratory disease, and women with gum disease experience higher levels of premature births or low birth weight and osteoporosis.

Early gum disease (gingivitis) is normally accompanied by gum sensitivity or redness, or a drop or two of blood on your toothbrush. If left untreated, gum disease will progress eventually to periodontitis, a serious and progressive form of gum disease that can severely impact good dental health, cause bone and tissue loss, and cause several long-term health problems. Gingivitis is reversible with strong attention to your oral hygiene.

Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a later stage of gum disease that can lead to irreparable damage to gums, teeth, tissue, and bone. At this stage, pockets form in gums and around teeth, trapping bacteria and leading to infection. Signs of periodontitis include purple or swollen gums, heavy gum bleeding, and tooth and gum pain.

Symptoms of periodontitis can be treated with aggressive periodontal cleanings and sound at-home oral care. Periodontitis patients are at high risk for losing their teeth unless your dentist can focus on treating your current symptoms and you can avoid the poor dental hygiene issues that caused your gum disease to progress to a severe health condition.

Gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene – and gingivitis can be reversed with proper oral care, regular dental cleanings, and dental exams. Because it’s usually painless, you may not discover it until it’s too late, making your semi-annual dental exams a critical step in stopping gum disease

If your gum disease had advanced to periodontitis or has progressed to an advanced stage of gum recession where teeth are compromised and painful, your dentist may prescribe aggressive periodontal therapies like root scaling, root planing, or even extraction of some teeth, along with antibiotics, to stop the infection.

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