The Early Stage of Gum Disease: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is caused by plaque and tartar build-up that, if not removed, can lead to infection, resulting in inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning from one of our periodontal experts, followed by daily brushing and flossing. Signs of gingivitis include:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that easily bleed when brushing or flossing
- Gum recession
Advanced Gum Disease: Periodontitis
While there are several forms of periodontitis, without treatment the end result for each is the same: loose teeth or tooth loss. Periodontitis is a serious infection, usually caused by poor oral hygiene, that attacks and destroys soft tissue as well as the bone surrounding your teeth. In some forms of the disease the progression is slow, while in other forms the progression is rapid and can begin as early as childhood. Additionally, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.
While periodontitis is not reversible, it is treatable, and if caught early on tooth loss and further damage can be prevented. Signs of periodontitis are similar to those of gingivitis, but also include:
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums that have caused your teeth to look longer than normal
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- New spaces developing between your teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are crucial as they help prevent as well as diagnose and treat the various forms of periodontitis. Additionally, good oral care can assist in the prevention of periodontitis, or prevent the disease from progressing in those who have it.
If you are experiencing signs of gum disease or periodontitis, schedule an appointment with one of our experts in periodontics for an examination.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease than someone who does not have diabetes. If you have both gum disease and diabetes, it can be difficult to manage your blood sugar levels as advanced stages of gum disease can cause them to elevate, resulting in the possibility of other serious complications.
Heart Disease and Gum Disease
The American Academy of Periodontology has released findings indicating that patients with advanced stages of periodontal disease are two times more likely to develop heart disease than individuals who do not have periodontal disease. The danger of contracting heart disease in conjunction with gum disease is due to the bacteria levels found in the blood of certain patients that directly correlates to the risk of clogged arteries in the neck, leading to the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Systemic Disease and Gum Disease
- Osteoporosis — This disease is directly related because of the risk of bone loss in the body. Oftentimes patients with osteoporosis also deal with bone loss in the mouth, causing them to lose teeth. Studies have found, however, that carefully controlling the gum disease can help to diminish the risk of bone loss in the jaw.
- Respiratory Disease — Bacteria is easily inhaled into a person’s lungs, making it difficult to fight off lung illnesses if your system is already depleted. This is a serious issue for those patients fighting COPD or those with chronic pneumonia. If your lungs are not in perfect health, they can have a hard time fighting the germs brought in by inhalation, making it easy to suffer complications and breathing difficulties.
- Cancer — A study conducted by Harvard University showed the relationship between gum disease and an increased cancer risk. In that study, it was proven that men have a 63 percent higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer if they have gum disease. In addition, everyone is at a higher risk for kidney, lung and blood cancers, even non-smokers if they have gum disease.
Gum Disease and the Risks for Children
Regardless of age, children are at risk for gum disease. Some kids are subjected to chronic gingivitis as a result of a systemic disease they already have, while others suffer from gum disease when experiencing hormonal changes. A continual examination and evaluation of your child’s mouth during every stage of their life is essential to rule out the risk of gum disease and its complications. Starting your children on a regular brushing, flossing and dental routine as early as possible is the best way to establish and maintain their oral health and help prevent the development of gum disease.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and Root Planing is a non-surgical procedure that’s designed to treat gum disease that has caused space to form between your gums and teeth, developing pockets that are too deep for a regular cleaning. This two-part procedure involves tartar and plaque being removed from above and below the gumline and the roots being smoothed out so that the gums can reattach to the teeth. If scaling and root planing is your appropriate treatment option, we can address any questions or concerns you may have as well as discuss how we can ensure an optimal comfort level.
A periodontal maintenance procedure (PMP) is a special, more frequent type of cleaning that is recommended following periodontal treatment, such as scaling and root planing. Depending on the severity of the gum disease these cleanings may be required every three to four months and are necessary to continue deterring progression. Our periodontists are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding treatment and maintenance as well as discuss how we can best help you achieve exceptional oral health.