Gum disease is a term used to describe the inflammation of the gums. It is also a form of bacterial infection that, if left unchecked, can and will progress to the point where it can spread to the bones surrounding and supporting teeth.
The infection is often the result of letting the bacteria, which comes with the sticky and colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth known as plaque, build up. The buildup is the result of not taking proper care of the teeth and gums, which then results to gum disease.
While it is true that plaque is always present in the teeth, it is possible to prevent plaque and bacteria build up through daily brushing, flossing and periodical maintenance from the dentist.
To further prevent gum disease, it’s important to educate yourself about the basics of what it is and its different stages.
Stage 1 – Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and causes inflammation, as well as bleeding, in the gums. The inflammation and the resulting bleeding are often caused by the plaque buildup that’s still currently limited at the gumline.
In this early stage, it is still highly possible to reverse the effects. This is because the infection has yet to affect the bone and the connective tissues. However, the only way to do that is to practice proper oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing. It’s also necessary to have the teeth checked and cleaned by the dentist for a more thorough clean and for the patient to receive tips for further care or maintenance.
Stage 2 – Periodontitis
This stage is sometimes split into slight and moderate periodontal disease. However, for the purpose of this article, both will only be referred to as periodontitis.
During periodontitis, the plaque and bacteria have spread to the bones and fibers responsible for holding the teeth in place, causing irreversible damage. Bad breath, though also a sign of gingivitis, may worsen. Also, the gums may appear redder or more inflamed than before.
Pain is rarely felt during this stage, which is both a bad thing since it’s usually why many people tend to disregard periodontitis as something “minor”. The effects, however, are far from what you’d consider as minor.
For example, periodontitis can cause tooth loosening, gum recession, pockets or holes below the gum line, even more bleeding, shifting of the teeth and other dental problems.
Treatment often starts at the dental office where the patient is advised to follow a strict oral home care regimen to prevent further damage. By this stage, reversing the effects is highly unlikely.
Stage 3 – Advanced Periodontitis
The final stage of gum disease is where the damage done by the infection is the worst. Case in point, the fibers and bone supporting the teeth have been damaged to the point that the teeth may have to be removed.
Treatment for advanced periodontitis is even more aggressive and maintenance medication may have to be prescribed to prevent the disease from progressing even further.
Treating Gum Disease
The best treatment for gum disease is prevention, and this is best done through proper oral care in the form of proper brushing and flossing. Doing both can help prevent plaque from building up and possibly causing irreversible damage.
In its later stages, professional cleaning and other dental treatments will have to be utilized to rid the teeth of plaque buildup and contain the infection.
It’s important to know that recent researches have shown that the bacteria from gum disease can travel through the bloodstream and cause complications in other places of the body. This means that while gum disease certainly starts in the mouth, its repercussions could affect the brain, heart and other important organs.
Thus, make it a point to take better care of your teeth and gums starting today. This includes not just flossing and brushing, but also rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash and scheduling regular checkups, as well as cleanings with your dentist.
If you feel that you may be suffering from gum disease, contact Dr. David Lunt, DDS at 818-885-7230 to schedule an appointment today. Or visit www.davidluntdds.com for additional information.