Gum Disease

What is it?

Gum Disease or periodontal disease is the infection of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. Without a trained eye it is hard to tell whether or not you even have gum disease because it is virtually pain free. A regular inspection called a perio chart is completed at your cleaning appointments to determine if gum disease is developing or has worsened. The hygienist will measure the depth of the pocket around your teeth at 6 points and record the measurements.

What causes gum diseases?

Every tooth in your mouth is surrounded by tissue. A sulcus is the area of space between a tooth and the gum tissue. It is normal for a tooth to have at least 1 – 3mm of pocket depth. As bacteria take in the carbohydrates and nutrients from the food you eat, they begin to form plaque near the gum line of your teeth. The plaque builds up in the pockets between your teeth and gum tissue. The bacteria secrete acid that eats away at the tissue and causes the pockets to increase in depth. If left untreated the pockets grow deep enough that the bacteria reach the bone. The acid secreted by the bacteria then begins to dissolve the bone. This loss of bone and connective tissue leads to tooth loss and increased chance of infection.

If the plaque built up on the gum line is allowed to remain it hardens into tartar. Tartar is harder and much more resilient to removal and blocks the pockets from being properly cleaned without the use of special instruments. Once gum disease has set in normal brushing and flossing can not stop it from progressing because a normal tooth brush does not reach into the pockets that have formed. Routine special cleaning appointments become important to clean out these pockets before they increase in depth and the condition worsens.

Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is recognized by bleeding and swollen gums that can be red and puffy or inflamed. At this stage gum disease is preventable with normal brushing and flossing.

Periodontitis – If gum disease is left untreated and the pockets begin to grow past 4mm a patient is then diagnosed with periodontitis. Failure to attend extensive cleanings where the hygienist uses special instruments to clean the tooth within the pocket will result in the increased depth of these pockets, and may lead to tooth, and further bone loss. Patients who have periodontal disease may be required to take medication prior to their appointment.

Factors that increase the rick of periodontitis include:

  •  Smoking the chewing tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, anti-epilepsy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Old fillings
  • Crowns and Bridges that no longer fit properly

Do you have periodontal disease? Symptoms can include:

  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, Inflamed Gums
  • Receding Gums
  • Bad breath or bad tastes
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose or mobile teeth

How to treat gum diseases?

Depending on the severity of each case, treatments for gum disease can differ. 

Typical treatments include:

  • Non-surgical treatments, such as scaling and root planning (the removal of plaque and tartar below the gum line to assist in the successful healing of the tissue below the gum line)
  • Periodontal surgery or laser gum surgery
  • The placement of dental implants

How to prevent gum disease?

Keeping up on your oral hygiene by monitoring your diet and keeping up with routing brushing and flossing can significantly decrease your chances of getting gum disease. If you have periodontal disease you can prevent losing teeth by scheduling regular periodontal cleanings as well as keeping up on your oral hygiene. 

If you are concerned or have questions about gum disease, feel free to contact our office today!