In the US today, half of all adults over the age of 30 have some stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease leads to loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss. And in large part due to the inflammation of the gums and bacterial spread, gum disease has also been linked to numerous other health issues including heart and lung diseases, diabetes, stroke, dementia, and pregnancy complications.
The good news is that gum disease is almost entirely preventable with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. In its early stage, it can usually be reversed simply by brushing and flossing daily and properly, and perhaps a regular cleaning at Fort Worth Gentle Dental. And even in moderate to advanced stages, it can often still be reversed with appropriate dental treatment. Your oral health is important, and we take it seriously. We offer scaling and root planing, dental crown lengthening, and bone grafting to fight gum disease and restore your oral health. Contact us today to learn more about gum disease treatment or to schedule an appointment with us.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a common condition that affects most adults at some point in their lives. In most cases, gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. Gum disease is a progressive infection that presents in two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Sometimes gum disease is the result of certain health or lifestyle factors, including hormonal changes, smoking and tobacco use, stress, family history, chronic illness, and some medications.
Stages of Gum Disease
There are three stages of periodontal (gum) disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gum disease is often completely painless so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms!
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. At this stage, bacteria in plaque has built up, leaving the gums irritated, inflamed, red, and sometimes prone to bleeding easily when teeth are brushed. The space between teeth and gum begins to get deeper, forming pockets. Only the gums are affected and it is highly treatable; there has been no damage to the bone or other tissue yet. Starting from this stage, persistent bad breath or metallic taste in the mouth can occur. Though it is sometimes difficult to detect any of these symptoms without a dental examination, if left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that has spread to the bone supporting the teeth. Pockets between the teeth get deeper, in which debris, bacteria and plaque can accumulate and spread below the gum line. Redness, swelling and bleeding develop or worsen. In this stage of periodontal disease, some irreversible bone and tissue loss occurs, and teeth may start to feel a bit loose.
In Advanced Periodontitis, pockets deepen even more and can fill with pus. Toxins from the buildup of bacterial plaque and tartar cause further deterioration of gum tissue, bone and ligaments that support the teeth. Teeth often feel extremely sensitive to hot and cold, loose, and may even need to be removed to prevent the disease from spreading further.
Non-Surgical and Surgical Gum Disease Treatments
Though the effects of gum disease sound (and are!) quite scary, fortunately, modern dentistry provides us with many treatment options that can halt the progression and even reverse the disease entirely! Gingivitis is typically easily reversed with a professional regular dental cleaning and good daily oral hygiene (brushing and flossing), but more advanced stages of gum disease require professional dental treatment. There are several surgical and non-surgical options that your dentist can recommend according to your specific case.