Gum disease is one of the most prevalent oral health problems, affecting millions of people each year. It occurs when bacteria that normally inhabit your mouth are allowed to grow uncontrolled and cause damage to your gum tissue and the structures that support your teeth. Poor oral hygiene, diabetes, smoking or chewing tobacco, and certain medications increase your risk of gum disease. If your dentist has diagnosed you with gum disease, here's what you need to know.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two most common forms of gum disease seen by dentists. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. At this stage there often isn't any pain or discomfort. However, you may notice some mild bleeding when brushing your teeth. Essentially, gingivitis is inflammation of your gums that occurs when bacteria form a sticky film called plaque that adheres to your teeth. The bacteria that make up this sticky film infect your gums, which results in the characteristic inflammation. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which spreads below your gums. The infection causes pockets to form, which destroys gum tissue and threatens the bone that support your teeth.
One of the most common signs of gum disease are gums that bleed easily. You may find yourself brushing your teeth and notice a pink hue to the toothpaste when you spit it out into the sink. If your gums are bleeding significantly during brushing, you'll see very apparent blood when you spit out your toothpaste and may even see your gums bleeding when you look in the mirror while brushing your teeth. Your teeth may also bleed when you eat everyday foods, such as apples or other hard fruits. Red, swollen, or tender gums are another warning sign of gum disease, as is persistent bad breath. If you have any of these symptoms, it's best to schedule a check-up with your dentist.
Gingivitis is the easiest to treat, as you can reverse it by having your dentist clean your teeth and improving your oral health care at home by brushing twice a day and flossing appropriately. Your dentist will show you the correct technique to brush your teeth and may recommend an anti-septic mouthwash to rinse with that will help keep the bacteria in check. Periodontal disease is treated with scaling and root planing, which is a procedure where your dentist scrapes off the calcified deposits called tartar and cleans under your gums to remove the bacteria and allow your gums to heal. Advanced periodontal disease often requires surgical intervention to restore your oral health.
For more information, contact local professionals like Hughes Thomas R.