What Is Gum Disease?
Gum or periodontal disease is a chronic gum disease that damages the soft tissue and underlying bone that support the teeth. It can also cause a tooth to loosen or to fall out. With time, the tissues that attach the gums to the teeth are destroyed by plaque and its toxins. The gums “pull away” from the teeth and pockets begin to form between the teeth and gums. Plaque and calculus continue to fill these pockets until eventually, the jawbone supporting the teeth is destroyed. This disease can progress to much more severe stages. The stages of gum disease include:
- Gingivitis. This is the earliest stage of periodontal disease where the gums are inflamed due to bacterial build up along the gumline. The damage occurring at this stage can be reversed since the supporting bone and tissue have not been compromised.
- Periodontitis. During this stage of periodontal disease, the supporting bone and tissue are now irreversibly damaged. The bacteria has progressed below the gum line and your gums may begin to form pockets, which trap food and plaque.
- Advanced Periodontitis. This is the most advanced and severe stage of periodontal disease. During this stage, the supporting bone and tissue are completely destroyed which causes teeth to shift, drift, or eventually fall out.
Antibiotics can sometimes help, however, it is only a temporary solution. Regular periodontal maintenance check-ups and cleanings will always be needed to keep the bacteria from attacking your gums and teeth again.
Causes Of Gum Disease.
Gum disease is a common but very preventable disease. It is caused by bacteria in dental plaque. If left untreated, the plaque buildup will eventually advance to periodontal disease. Here is how:
- When the sugars and starches from the food you eat interact with the bacteria, plaque begins to form on the teeth.
- If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. Calculus also originated from your saliva and will always return. Calculus sticks to your tooth and root surfaces and cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Professional assistance is needed to remove it from your teeth.
- Chronic gum inflammation can cause periodontal disease. The inflamed gums create pockets where bacteria and plaque can harbor and manifest.
- Practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental checkups, can help your treatment and reduce your chance of developing periodontal disease.
Plaque is constantly forming on the teeth. Plaque irritates the gums, causing them to become red, tender, and swollen. If it is not removed daily, plaque progresses to a hard material known as tartar or calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. A dentist, periodontist, or hygienist must remove it manually to stop the disease process.
How To Prevent Periodontal Disease
Although periodontal disease can cause serious oral health complications, the condition is preventable. Maintaining good oral hygiene and taking care of your gums is essential when it comes to preventing and treating periodontal disease. Following these helpful guidelines can help in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease:
- Brush. Practicing good oral hygiene and brushing your teeth daily helps remove bacteria and food particles and massage the gums. Be sure to brush twice daily for a complete two minutes.
- Floss. Flossing is essential for removing any food particles and bacteria that are trapped between the teeth and slightly below the gumline that a toothbrush cannot reach.
- Regular dental checkups. During routine dental checkups, the dentist will examine the gums and other oral tissues for signs of any periodontal disease. A professional dental cleaning will be performed that will remove the excess plaque and bacteria below the gumline.