Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. There are two stages of periodontal disease. The first stage is known as gingivitis. In this stage the gums are red, swollen and may bleed when you brush your teeth. Since there is typically no pain at this stage, patients rarely seek treatment. In the more advanced stage, known as periodontitis, the gums will begin to pull away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where bacteria can grow and cause damage to the bone that surrounds the teeth. Teeth may also loosen and fall out at this stage.
Whenever you eat or drink there is residue left on your teeth. If not removed by brushing and flossing, the residue will turn into plaque. This plaque can spread below the gums and damage the bone that supports the teeth. The plaque hardens over time into a substance called tartar. The bacteria in plaque can generate toxins that irritate the gum tissues and cause them to break down. This is the beginning of gum disease. Risk factors for gum disease include:
Poor oral hygiene habits
Use of tobacco products
Family history of gum disease
Uncontrolled diabetes, AIDS or leukemia
High stress levels
You may already have gum disease if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Red, swollen or tender gums
Gums that pull away or shrink from the teeth
Pus emitting from the gum line
Depending on the advancement of the infection, you have several options for treating gum disease. In the earliest stages, gum disease can be reversed by brushing and flossing your teeth daily and getting regular dental cleanings. If the infection is more advanced, you may need to get a dental cleaning using a method called root planing and scaling. This will remove the plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line. For the most severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the damage from periodontitis. Pocket or flap surgery is recommended when your gums have almost pulled completely away from your teeth, forming pockets that are too deep to be kept clean. The gum tissue is folded back to remove any bacteria before securing the tissue for a snug fit around your teeth. If you have pocket reduction surgery, you might also need tissue or bone grafts to encourage the regeneration of gum tissue and bone that has been destroyed by periodontitis.
It’s vitally important to have gum disease diagnosed and treated early to avoid tooth loss and surgery. If you have gum disease symptoms, call today to make an appointment with us to start your treatment.
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