Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place in your mouth. Gum disease is caused by the build-up of bacteria, known as plaque, between the teeth and gums. Over time, the plaque hardens and becomes tartar. If left untreated, the plaque causes your gums to become painful and infected. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Only a professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Symptoms of gum disease will depend on the progression of the infection. Some of the symptoms may include the following:
- Gums that are swollen and sore
- Gums that look red or inflamed
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gums that have receded or pulled back from the teeth
- Teeth that are loose
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- A change in your bite
- A change in the fit of your dentures
Causes of Gum Disease
There are several causes for gum disease but the most significant cause is smoking. With continued smoking, the treatment for gum disease is less successful. Other causes of gum disease include the following:
- Hormonal changes
- Medications that reduce the flow of saliva
- Illnesses such as AIDS and medications to treat the illness
- Genetic tendency towards gum disease
- Clenching or Grinding Teeth
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Poor Nutrition
Treatment of Gum Disease
The goal in the treatment of gum disease is controlling the infection. Depending on the severity of the infection will determine the number and types of treatments you will need. Treatment of gum disease may include:
- Scaling and Root Planing
A treatment to remove bacteria from below the gum line and the root of the tooth.
Antibiotics and antimicrobial medication to fight the infection and reduce the size of the gum pockets that have developed because of the gum disease.
Flap surgery may be performed to lift the gum tissue so it can be cleaned underneath. This may include gum or bone grafts to regenerate tissue lost to damage.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Periodontal, or gum disease can be prevented. By adding these habits to your daily dental hygiene, they include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Flossing and brushing your teeth
- Regularly seeing your dentist
- Not smoking
With regular dental visits, your dental profession will be able to identify symptoms of gum disease early so that your teeth and gums are protected.