Gum disease accounts for approximately 70% of all tooth loss in adults. Early signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when flossing or brushing and gums that are red, inflamed, or swollen.
Taking care of your mouth is essential for protecting your teeth and your gums, as well as the supporting structures, from serious oral health issues. To protect the health of your mouth, it is recommended that you brush and floss your teeth every day. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. In addition to your daily home care routine, it is recommended that you have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year. Ignoring any of these steps can significantly increase your risk of developing gum disease. If gum disease has developed in your mouth, Michael Regan, DMD Family, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry can help.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a progressive oral health issue that can have a serious impact on your oral, and overall, health if not treated right away. When gum disease begins, however, it does not seem that serious. In fact, many people do not even know that they have it until it starts to get worse.
Gum disease starts when your gum tissue becomes irritated. This irritation is caused by a buildup of plaque and oral bacteria in your mouth. When the tissue is irritated, it becomes inflamed. Eventually, the inflamed tissue begins to pull away from the teeth, and bacteria can fall below the gum line. Here, they begin attacking the supporting structures of your teeth, causing them to grow weak. Without treatment, gum disease can ultimately lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.
How Do I Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease has many causes. The most common of these causes is poor oral hygiene. When you ignore brushing, flossing, or regular dental visits, this provides plaque and bacteria the opportunity to accumulate. Even occasionally skipping a part of your oral hygiene routine can significantly increase your risk.
Other causes of gum disease include:
|•||Improper tooth alignment. Misaligned teeth create hiding places for plaque and bacteria that are hard to clean properly.
|•||Using tobacco products. If you smoke, chew tobacco, or use any other type of tobacco products, your risk increases significantly. Tobacco products limit oxygen in your blood and slow your blood flow, preventing the body from effectively fighting off infections.
|•||Dry mouth. Dry mouth can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, some medications, and certain types of medical issues. When you have dry mouth, there is insufficient saliva production, which leaves your mouth feeling dry. This is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in.|
What Are the Symptoms?
The earliest symptoms of gum disease, red, swollen tissue that bleeds when you brush and floss, are often ignored or missed completely. As the disease progresses, other symptoms begin to occur.
|•||Small spaces between your teeth as your gums recede.
|•||Tooth sensitivity, which occurs when recession exposes your tooth roots.
How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
Diagnosing gum disease requires a thorough oral exam. We first visually inspect the tissues within your mouth. We look over your gums, assessing redness and swelling. Periodontal pockets are measured. We also take X-rays of your mouth, which allows us to assess any damaged below the gums. With these images, we can spot signs of infection as well as detect bone loss in your jaw. Once we have determined the extent of the damage, we are then able to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Treatments for gum disease vary based on the severity of the condition. Common treatments include:
|•||Scaling and root planing.
|•||Pocket reduction surgery.
|•||Soft tissue and bone grafting procedures.|
Treating gum disease as quickly as possible is essential for stopping the destruction of your oral health in its path and giving your mouth an opportunity to heal. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Michael Regan, DMD Family, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry at 503-654-8283 today.