Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a serious oral health condition that could put your smile at risk for a number of dental health issues. Beyond dental health problems, gum disease has also been linked to severe chronic health issues as well. In this article, we’ll discuss just exactly what gum disease means and the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
The Stages of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is one of the most common oral health issues for adults and children alike in America. It can cause inflammation, weaken the supporting structures of the teeth, and even cause tooth loss. When it comes to periodontal disease, there are three stages:
The earliest stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. This is where inflammation of the gums occurs due to a buildup of plaque at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing aren’t removing the plaque, it can produce bacteria that will then irritate the gum tissue, leading to this early stage of gum disease. During this stage, you may begin to notice some bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth. When you begin to notice these signs, it’s important to see your dentist. Gingivitis can be reversed and your symptoms can be improved since it does not yet affect the bone and connective tissues in the mouth.
This moderate stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. During this stage, the bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place begin to be irreversibly damaged. Your gums will begin to form a pocket below the gumline, which will then become an easy place for food and plaque to get stuck. Proper dental treatment at the dentist and improving your at-home dental health routine can help prevent further damage.
The most severe case of periodontal disease is known as advanced periodontitis. This final stage of gum disease is when the fibers and bones supporting your teeth are destroyed, leading to your teeth to shift, become loose, or fall out altogether. When this happens, your bite can be affected and your teeth may have to be removed.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
When your gums are healthy, they will be a nice pink color and hug your teeth tightly, however, if you have gum disease, you will begin to notice some or all of these signs:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Gums that are bright red or purple
- Pain or tenderness when you touch your gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing your teeth (or a pinkish tint when you spit out your toothpaste)
- Frequent or persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth or teeth that are falling out
- Pain when eating or chewing
- Gaps between teeth
- Receding gums
- Pus around the bottoms of your teeth
Gum Disease Treatment
If you notice the signs mentioned above, it’s important to get to your dentist as soon as possible. Treatments for periodontal disease can include:
Scaling and Cleaning
The first step in treating gum disease is removing the plaque and tartar stuck on the teeth. When you come in for your appointment, we will perform a scaling and debridement treatment to clean the gumline. This can be done using hand tools or an ultrasonic device that helps break up the plaque and tartar so it can be removed from your teeth. Root planing is done to smooth rough areas on the roots of the teeth where bacteria can lodge within the rough patches.
Another way to treat gum disease is through medicated mouthwashes and other medications to help rid the infection. This can include prescribed antimicrobial mouth rinses, antibiotic gels, and more.
For patients with severe cases of periodontitis, surgery may be needed. The surgeries typically done for patients with gum disease include flap surgery and bone and tissue grafts.
Risks if Left Untreated
Modern studies have shown that frequent or ongoing periodontal disease is linked to other health conditions due to the inflammation which can put you at a higher risk of developing a chronic health condition. Diseases linked to gum disease can include: diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more.
Visit Young Family Dental
While gum disease can be harmful, it can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and by seeing your dentist regularly. At Young Family Dental, we offer preventative cleanings and checkups as well as treatments for gum disease. If you notice the signs of gum disease, see one of our dentists today at Young Family Dental for a comprehensive treatment plan. With five convenient locations in Riverton, West Jordan, American Fork, Orem, and Saratoga Springs, make an appointment with us today.