GENTLECARE Family Dentistry, P.C.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support
the teeth. It is also called periodontal disease. The two stages of gum disease
are called gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis (say
"jin-juh-VY-tus") is mild gum disease that affects only the gums, the
tissue that surrounds the teeth. Periodontitis. (say
"pair-ee-oh-don-TY-tus") is gum disease that gets worse and spreads
below the gums to damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth.
What causes gum disease?
causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when the teeth are brushed.
Because gingivitis usually doesn't cause pain, many people don't get the
treatment they need.
develops if gum disease gets worse. The gums pull away from the teeth,
leaving deep pockets where germs called bacteria can grow and damage the
bone that supports the teeth. Gums can also shrink back from the teeth.
This can make the teeth look longer. Teeth may become loose, fall out, or
have to be pulled out by a dentist.
Your mouth constantly makes a clear, sticky substance called plaque that
contains bacteria. The bacteria in plaque make poisons, or toxins, that
irritate the gums and cause the gum tissues to break down. If you don't do a
good job of removing plaque from your teeth, it can spread below the gums and
damage the bone that supports the teeth. With time, the plaque hardens into a
substance called tartar that has to be removed by a dentist or dental
hygienist. You are more likely to get gum disease if you:
What are the symptoms?
not clean your teeth well.
or chew tobacco.
someone in your family who has gum disease.
a condition that makes it harder for your body to fight infection, such
diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia.
high level of stress.
poor diet that's low in nutrients.
It may be hard to tell if you have a mild case of gum disease. Healthy gums are
pink and firm, fit snugly around the teeth, and do not bleed easily. But mild
cases of gum disease (gingivitis) cause:
As gum disease gets worse (periodontitis), the symptoms are
easier to see, such as:
that are red, swollen, and tender.
that bleed easily during brushing or flossing.
How is gum disease diagnosed?
that pull away or shrink from the teeth.
breath that won't go away.
coming from the gums.
change in how your teeth fit together when you bite.
To find out if you have gum disease, your dentist will do an exam to look for:
Your dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your
teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.
buildups of plaque and tartar above and below the gums.
where your gums are pulling away or shrinking from your teeth.
that have grown between your teeth and gums.
How is it treated? If
you have a mild case of gum disease, you will probably be able to take care of
it by brushing and flossing your teeth every day and getting regular cleanings
at your dentist's office. If your gum disease has become worse and you have
periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth using a
method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar
buildup both above and below the gum line. You may also need to take
antibiotics to help get rid of the infection in your mouth. If your gum disease
is severe, you may need to have surgery.
How can you prevent gum disease?
While gum disease is most common in adults, it can affect anyone, even
children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life:
If you think you have a mild case of gum disease, make sure
to take care of it before it gets worse. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy
and getting regular checkups from your dentist can keep the disease from
getting worse. Having gum disease may increase a pregnant woman's risk of
having a premature, low-birth-weight baby. Also, studies have found a direct
link between heart disease and the bacteria that cause gum disease. So taking
good care of your teeth and gums may have benefits beyond keeping your mouth
your teeth 2 times a day, in the morning and before bedtime, with a
your teeth once each day.
your dentist for regular checkups and teeth cleaning.
use tobacco products.