When it comes to your oral health, it's important to focus not only on the health of your teeth but also the health of your gums.
Maintaining healthy gums is crucial for preventing gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. You can achieve healthy gums through proper oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily and having dental appointments regularly for cleanings and check-ups.
However, if you do develop gum disease or you are already experiencing symptoms, visit us here at Covington Family Dental for expert treatment. Our experienced team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to address your gum disease and restore your oral health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common infection that affects the gum's soft tissues and bones supporting the teeth. It is caused by plaque buildup along the gum line, resulting in inflammation and eventual destruction of these supportive structures. This can lead to recession of the gums, loosening and loss of teeth, and even impact overall health if left untreated.
What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Both gingivitis and periodontitis are forms of gum disease, but there are key differences in their progression and treatment. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and it is characterized by inflammation of the gums due to the buildup of plaque on the teeth. Typically, you may have gingivitis and not be aware of it, as there may be little to no discomfort or noticeable symptoms. Symptoms may include bright red, swollen, or tender gums and occasional bleeding when brushing and flossing.
On the other hand, periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. In addition to inflammation, periodontitis results in damage to the tissues and bone supporting the teeth. As gums inflame and pull away from the teeth, pockets form that can become infected. This infection can spread to the bone and ultimately lead to tooth loss if not treated. People with periodontitis often experience symptoms such as increased sensitivity and pain when chewing as early warning signs.
While gingivitis can often be treated with improved oral hygiene and regular dental visits, periodontitis typically requires more intensive treatment, such as scaling and root planing to clean below the gum line and possibly surgery to restore damaged tissue.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
Gum disease is usually painless and may progress without you even knowing you have it. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease are often hard to spot, there are some warning signs that may point toward gum disease.
Some common signs include red, swollen, or tender gums; bleeding during and after brushing or flossing; persistent bad breath; receding gums; and loose or shifting teeth. Other warning signs include changes in the fit of dentures or sensitivity to hot and cold. Even if you are not experiencing any of these symptoms, you may still have gum disease, which is why regular dental check-ups are important in detecting and treating the condition.
What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?
When the bacteria in your mouth builds up, it produces toxins that can cause gum tissue irritation. If it is not properly removed through daily brushing and flossing, it can form a film known as plaque that is hard to get rid of. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar, which only a professional cleaning can remove.
Although plaque buildup is the prime cause of gum disease, other factors can play a role in periodontal disease development. These can include smoking, hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy or menopause), certain medications (such as steroids or cancer therapy drugs), genetics, and systemic health conditions (such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS). Poor oral hygiene habits also contribute to gum disease progression.
What Are Gum Disease Treatment Options?
There are three primary objectives of gum disease treatment: reattachment of healthy gums to your teeth, reducing inflammation, depth of pockets between your gums, and risk of infection; and halting the progression of the disease. The treatment options vary depending on the severity of your gum disease.
Mild cases may only require professional cleaning and good oral hygiene habits at home. More advanced cases may require a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, where plaque and tartar below the gum line are removed.
Scaling and root planing also involve thorough cleaning (prophylaxis) of infected gingival tissue and smooth shaping of the tooth root to prevent future accumulation of plaque and tartar.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat damaged tissue and bones and remove necrotized gum tissues. Patients may benefit from soft tissue grafting to replace lost gingival tissue. We may also prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection present in the gums.
Is Gum Disease Reversible?
The effects of gum disease can vary from person to person, but in general, it depends on how far your gum disease has progressed. For instance, if the extent of your gum disease is marked by bleeding gums whenever you brush or floss, then you are most likely in the initial stages of gum disease, and it is possible to reverse the effects through proper oral hygiene alongside regular dental checkups.
However, suppose your gum disease has progressed to the point of causing gum recession or even tooth loss. In that case, the damage may not be fully reversible, and it is probably now periodontitis. In these cases, it is important to work closely with our dentist to treat your periodontitis and preserve as much of your natural teeth and gum tissue as possible.
Overall, early detection and intervention are the keys to reversing or managing gum disease. Be sure to schedule regular dental checkups and maintain good oral hygiene habits at home.
Request a Covington Dental Appointment Today!
If you have any concerns or notice changes in your gums, don't hesitate to contact our office at 253.499.6155 for a consultation. Our team at Covington Family Dental is experienced in treating gum disease, and we are ready to help you achieve optimal oral health.