Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects many adults in the United States. According to the CDC, nearly 50 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease occurs when bacteria in the mouth causes infection and inflammation of the gums. When bacteria are not regularly removed by brushing or flossing, it forms plaque, which eventually hardens into tartar. When tartar forms below the gum line, the body’s natural immune defenses attack the tartar and, in the process of doing so, also targets the bone. This can lead to tooth loss, bleeding, gum recession, and more. Tartar can only be removed by a professional cleaning from a dentist or dental hygienist.
Is It Curable?
Periodontal disease starts out as mild gum inflammation, but if left untreated can lead to serious health problems. Gum disease has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The good news is, depending on the stage it is in, the progress of gum disease can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed with proper dental care.
Early Stage: Gingivitis
The earliest form of the disease is known as gingivitis. Signs that you’re in this stage include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Bad breath
- Heavy tartar buildup
- Sensitive teeth
Happily, with early detection, you can undo the damage and get back to good health. If you’re experiencing any of the signs, a good regimen of brushing twice a day and flossing along with regular checkups with your dentist can reverse the condition.
Advanced Stages: Periodontitis
Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease. It occurs when gingivitis is left untreated and usually requires some sort of intervention by your dentist.
The inflammation begins affecting the tissues of the gums, causing them to pull away from the teeth, exposing pockets that become infected. The body’s own immune system will attack the infection and ultimately break down the tissues holding the teeth in place. If not treated during or before this stage, the gums and bones holding the teeth in place will be destroyed. This can cause the teeth to loosen and they may even have to be removed.
Signs of periodontitis are similar to those of gingivitis, but may also include:
- New spaces emerging between your teeth
- Receding gums
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- Pain while chewing
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
So, Just Floss Some More?
Unfortunately, once gum disease has progressed beyond gingivitis, personal dental care can’t reverse it. Periodontitis may require a professional deep cleaning below the gums, prescription medication, and/or surgery. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist to take corrective action right away.
Prevention Is Key
Your best bet when it comes to gum disease is to avoid it altogether. Regular dentist visits are a huge part of your preventative care. During your routine dental check-ups, your dentist will not only check for tooth decay and cavities, but also early signs of gum disease that you may not have noticed.
Prevent gum disease by scheduling your next checkup. Contact Steger Smiles in Steger, IL today.