Gum disease is also known as periodontitis and periodontal disease. It starts with bacterial growth and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. The disease damages the tissue surrounding your teeth. Millions of people suffer from gum disease and rush to the dentist once it has progressed significantly.
Are Gum Disease And Gingivitis The Same?
Gingivitis tends to precede gum disease. But, one should keep in mind that gingivitis does not progress to periodontitis all the time. During the early stage of gingivitis, plaque begins to build up, which causes inflammation in the gums. Thus, whenever you brush your teeth, the gums would start to bleed. Even though the gums might be irritated, your teeth would still be planted firmly in place. At this stage, there would be no irreversible bone or any other tissue damage.
If gingivitis is not treated, it will progress to periodontitis. Anyone who has periodontitis would suffer from bone disease. The inner layer of the gum pulls away from the teeth and forms pockets. As these small spaces form between the gums and teeth, debris would accumulate, and the space would become infected. The immune system in your body will try to fight off the bacteria as plaque grows and spreads.
The plaque would produce toxins, and they will affect the good enzymes in your body. This will result in the bone and all the connective tissue holding your teeth in place breaking down. The pockets would only deepen as the gum disease progresses. It will result in more bone and gum tissue getting destroyed. Once this occurs, your teeth would no longer be anchored and would become loose. Finally, tooth loss would happen.
So What Causes Gum Disease?
According to Midtown Manhattan dentist Dr. Bagheri, the main cause of periodontitis is plaque. But, other factors also contribute to gum disease, as mentioned below.
- A family history of dental disease may be the leading factor behind the development of gum disease.
- Poor oral hygiene habits like not flossing or brushing your teeth regularly can make it a lot easier for gum disease to develop.
- Bad habits like smoking prevent the gum tissue from repairing itself.
- Hormonal changes as experienced during monthly menstruation, menopause, puberty, and pregnancy make the gums a lot more sensitive, making it easier for gum disease to develop.
- Illnesses might also impact the gums’ condition, such as HIV or cancer, as they interfere with your immune system. Similarly, diabetes impacts the body by distorting its ability to effectively use blood sugar.
- Medications also tend to impact your oral health by decreasing saliva flow, which is responsible for protecting the teeth and gums. Some drugs cause the gum tissue to experience abnormal growth.
Stages of Periodontitis
Periodontitis begins with inflammation and becomes worse as it progresses.
1. Gingivitis (Inflammation)
Periodontitis starts with gum inflammation or gingivitis. The first sign of gum inflammation is when your gums bleed whenever you floss or brush your teeth. The teeth will also become discolored. This is known as plaque which is a build-up of food debris and bacteria in the mouth. Even though bacteria are always present, it becomes harmful due to certain conditions. It might occur when you do not floss, brush, or seek dental cleaning regularly.
2. Early Periodontal Disease
During the early stages of gum disease, the gums start to pull away or recede from the teeth. This forms small pockets between the teeth and gums, which begin harboring harmful bacteria. The immune system attempts to prevent the infection, which results in the gum tissue receding. Thus, your gums will bleed every time you floss or brush.
3. Moderate Periodontal Disease
If the periodontal disease progresses further, your gums will bleed, and you will feel pain around the teeth. As the teeth would lose bone support, they would become loose. Moreover, the infection would also cause an inflammatory response in the body.
4. Advanced Periodontal Disease
In the advanced stage, the connective tissue holding the teeth starts deteriorating. The bones, gums, and other tissue supporting the teeth would also be destroyed. Anyone with advanced periodontitis would experience severe bad breath, pain while chewing, and a foul taste. Eventually, you will end up losing your teeth.
What Can A Periodontist Do To Help?
Periodontists are periodontal specialists who prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. They also place dental implants. As oral inflammation treatment experts, patients who have gum disease can count on them to help them out. A periodontist has extensive training in the treatment of gum disease. They study for an extra three years upon completion of dental school. Thus, they are completely familiar with the most recent techniques for treating gum disease. In addition to diagnosing and treating gum disease, they are also trained in cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Often, periodontists treat highly problematic cases involving complex medical history or severe gum disease. Various treatment options are offered by periodontists like
- root planing and scaling (wherein the infected surface’s root would be cleaned) and
- root surface debridement (wherein the damaged tissue would be removed).
Moreover, periodontists also treat patients with severe gum problems through the use of various surgical procedures. They are even trained in placing, maintaining, and repairing dental implants.
What Should You Expect During A Visit To The Periodontist?
When you first visit the periodontist, he or she would review your entire dental and medical history. You must let the periodontist know which medications you use as they might cause the issue. It is also important to tell the periodontist if you are suffering from any condition like pregnancy, diabetes, or heart disease. The periodontist will examine the gums to see if the teeth fit together, the gum line has not been affected, and to check whether the teeth are loose or not. You can rest assured that the periodontist will help treat you.
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