Gum disease is an oral health problem that is easily overlooked by most people. This is because it is painless, making it go unnoticed. We focus more on the health of our teeth and forget to take care of the gums. Failure to spot this condition early and get proper treatment can have severe consequences since gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. If you are having problems with the health of your gums or teeth, it is wise to visit a dentist. At the Downey Dentist, we are dedicated to providing quality dental as well as oral care to our many satisfied customers. We serve residents of Downey, CA, to cover all the dental needs of your family.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis is a severe gum infection that damages your gums. It is characterized by inflammation, redness as well as bleeding of the gum line. If left untreated, it can progress and affect the bones which support your teeth. Gum disease will develop in two stages, including:
Gingivitis is a non-destructive and initial stage of gum disease. Gingivitis causes redness and inflammation of the gums which bleed when you brush your teeth. Sometimes this condition is mild, and you may not notice you have it. Gingivitis often resolves with frequent brushing, flossing, and general oral hygiene. If you visit a dentist, the treatment will just be cleaning your gums to get rid of the bacteria and plaque. However, it should be taken seriously, since it can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease but can still get treated with more invasive techniques. This condition is most common in adults, and it involves a buildup of plaque on the gums. The gums slowly deteriorate and may become worse, causing destruction of gums as well as the bones supporting them. If periodontitis is not treated, it can progress to the chronic stage where the gum tissues and tooth ligaments die from lack of blood supply. Here is how plaque causes periodontitis.
- Plaque forms on the teeth: When sugars and starches from food interact with healthy mouth bacteria, the plaque is formed on the teeth. Although brushing or flossing may remove it, the plaque reforms.
- Hardening of plaque under the gum line: The plaque hardens around the teeth, turning into tartar, which is more difficult to remove by just brushing or flossing. This tartar causes more damage to your teeth and gums.
- Inflammation of the gums: Your gums will get irritated and inflamed around the base of the teeth. Inflammation causes the development of pockets filled with plaque between the teeth and gums. Untreated inflammation will strain your immunity and may cause tooth loss.
There are different types of periodontitis. Below are the most common types.
- Chronic Periodontitis: This type mostly affects adults and is rare in children. It is caused by plaque buildup, which causes slow deterioration of the gums and the bones supporting the teeth.
- Aggressive Periodontal Disease: Usually begins in childhood and can progress to early adulthood. It is genetics thus affects families and progresses quickly to bone damage and tooth loss
- Necrotizing Periodontal Disease: This is a very severe type of gum disease and is characterized by the death of tooth ligaments, gum tissues, and supporting bone. Death is a result of inadequate blood supply to the gums. Necrotizing periodontal disease is common in individuals with a suppressed immune system.
Factors that Contribute to the Development of Gum Disease
Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, the following factors also contribute to the illness:
Hormonal changes will cause gum disease more in women than men. The female hormones produced during pregnancy, monthly period, menopause, or puberty increase the flow of blood into the gums. This will increase the sensitivity of the gums, making them react to any form of irritation. The constant irritation of the gums will cause bleeding and inflammation, which is the first stage of gum disease development. However, proper oral care during these periods off hormonal imbalance can reduce the prevalence of gum disease.
Chronic illnesses such as HIV and cancer weakens the immune system and increases your risk to the gum disease. Diabetes affects the ability of your body to balance blood sugar. Patients suffering from this disease have an increased risk of dental problems including periodontitis
Gum disease is caused by bacteria, which is more likely to survive in the smoker’s unhealthy mouths. Long term smokers have tartar, which decreases saliva flow. This creases more pockets for bacteria and plaque to hide. Despite their unhealthy mouths, smokers have less bleeding gums. This gives them the impression that they have healthy gums. Still, smoking increases the risk of periodontitis and makes treatment for this condition more difficult.
Healthy teeth and gums are highly dependent on regular dental visits, good oral hygiene, low sugar diet, and healthy saliva. Some medicines, including over the counter drugs, may cause a dry mouth and increased risk of bleeding gums. Others such as aspirin are acidic and cause corrosion of the teeth and gums. Syrups increase sugar in the mouth, which is a favorable condition for the growth and flourishing of bacteria. Also, increased consumption of antibiotics can cause oral thrush, which in return attracts more bacteria growth.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Your mouth is always full of bacteria from food, and when it combines with saliva, a sticky film is formed on the teeth. This substance is easy to remove when brushing or flossing but can recur. Poor oral hygiene such as failure to brush and go for dental checkups will cause plaque buildup. This plaque is the leading cause of gingivitis, which progresses to periodontitis.
Stress has been shown to lower immune function and affect the ability of your body to fight infections. Gum disease starts up with an infection and is one of the diseases caused by stress.
Some individuals are more genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite maintaining good oral health, they may still suffer periodontal disease. Getting an early diagnosis and identifying susceptibility to periodontal disease will ensure early intervention and treatment.
Poor Nutrition and Obesity
A diet that lacks essential nutrients will weaken your immunity and make it harder for the body to fight infection. Periodontal disease starts as a bacterial infection; thus, poor nutrition makes the condition worse and causes recurrence even after treatment. Obese individuals are also at risk to develop gum disease.
Clenching of the Teeth
Grinding and clenching of your teeth increase pressure on the tissues supporting them. This causes damage to the periodontal tissues. Broken gums are more susceptible to inflammation as well as bacterial infections.
If you have a condition where your teeth overlap each other, the ligaments create spaces for plaque to build up between your gums and teeth. The crooked teeth can also cause bleeding of the gums, which is an initial stage of periodontal disease.
Common Symptoms of Gum Disease
In most cases, gum disease will progress without pain-producing signs. However, the condition is not entirely subtle some of these symptoms may be a clear indication that you are suffering from periodontal disease.
For individuals whose signs of gum disease are not easy to spot, and breathing may be an indication of a problem with your dental health. Sometimes bad breath is just a result of poor oral hygiene but can be an indication of a more serious periodontal disease. Bacteria associated with gum disease produce toxins that irritate the gums, facilitate plaque development and cause bleeding gums
Gum recession occurs when the margin of your gum tissues surrounding your teeth wear away and pulls from the teeth. This exposes more of the tooth root. Gum recession causes gaps between the gums and teeth which facilitate the buildup of bacteria. This condition is a common dental problem, and it develops gradually. Gum recession may be an indication of a more severe condition which is periodontal disease.
Brushing and dental flossing is a daily activity and should rarely cause bleeding. Gums bleeding may be an indication of gingivitis, which is the initial stage of periodontal disease. Gingivitis causes inflammation and damage to your gums and will easily bleed when brushing or flossing. Also, the condition may make your gums reddish and tender to make them more prone to injuries.
Loose or Shifting Teeth
Loose teeth in young children may be just an indication of a healthy dental transition. However, once the permanent set of teeth grow, a loose or shifted tooth is not a regular occurrence. Plaque causes the gums to pull away from the teeth creating gaps that harbor bacteria for gum infection. Over time this causes a breakdown of tissues and bones supporting the teeth, making them loose and dislocated. Change in the way your teeth fit together upon biting may be an indication of periodontal disease.
Mouth Sores and Pus Between Gums and Teeth
A periodontal abscess is a pocket filled with pus in the tissues of your gums. The sores resemble a red ball swelling from your worn out and inflamed gums. This will also lead to more lesions in the mouth and gums, which cause fever and throbbing pain. Having acute abscess may be an indication of severe periodontal disease.
Treatment for Gum Disease
Gum disease can be quite painful and uncomfortable. The main goal of treatment for periodontal disease is to promote reattachment of healthy gums to the teeth. Treatment should also reduce swelling and the depth of the pockets between your gums and teeth. The method of treatment will depend on the stage at which your disease is at and your overall health. There exists home remedies but will only relieve symptoms. To effectively get cured of periodontal disease, it is crucial to visit a dentist. Treatment for this condition will range from non-surgical therapies that get rid of bacteria to surgical procedures to restore damaged tissues.
During a dental checkup, your dentist will help plaque and tartar that builds up on your teeth even after brushing. If you have any signs of gum disease, the dentist will recommend and perform professional dental cleaning. However, this cannot be used to treat progressed periodontal disease.
Also, you can undergo scaling, which is deep cleaning and scraping tartar from above and below the gum line. The rough patches on the tooth are made smooth. Smoothing these patches will remove bacteria and makes the surface favorable for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Your dentist will perform scaling if they find tartar under your gums that need removal.
For some patients scaling is not necessary, and treatment can be done using antibiotics. The drugs are used to temporarily suppress tooth and gum destruction by eliminating bacteria that cause gum disease.
Surgical Treatment for Periodontitis
When the periodontal disease becomes too severe, surgical procedures are performed. Flap surgery is the process where the gums are lifted, and the plaque is removed. Also damaged bone is smoothed to reduce the surface area for bacteria to grow. The gums will then get placed back to fit properly around the tooth. This reduces areas where harmful bacteria hide and decrease the chance of gum disease.
You can also get bone grafts where synthetic bone is used to replace one destroyed by periodontal disease. These grafts will act as a platform for bone regrowth and restore tooth stability. Soft tissue grafts are done using tissue from the roof of the mouth and fill gums where they are thinned. Bone surgery smoothens the shallow craters on the bones caused by severe bone loss. After flap surgery, the bone around the tooth get reshaped to decrease the cavities making it difficult for bacteria to collect and cause periodontitis
Another surgical procedure to treat severe gum disease is guided tissue regeneration. This procedure is performed when the bones supporting the teeth are damaged. Tissue regeneration will stimulate tissue as well as bone growth. It is doe together with flap surgery to prevent gums from developing where teeth should be.
If you are suffering from gum disease or spot any symptoms, you should visit a dentist for treatment to avoid tooth loss. Most individuals will get rid of periodontitis with non-surgical procedures. Surgery will be done when the tissues cannot get repaired with non-surgical methods.
How Can Gum Disease be Prevented?
With proper plaque control, Gingivitis can get reversed, and the progression of the gum disease stopped. You can protect your gums from periodontitis by:
Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene aims at maintaining clean teeth free from debris, gums that are pink in color and less sensitive, fresh breath as well as gums that don’t breathe when brushing or flossing. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is one of the most crucial ways of preventing gum disease. Daily care that constitutes oral hygiene is by brushing and flossing regularly. This will help prevent the development of tartar, which might lead to periodontal disease.
Regular Dental Visits
It is crucial to see a dentist for checkups and dental cleaning every six to twelve months. To protect your gums, If you have risk factors such a family history, chronic illness, or obesity which predispose you to gum disease, then you need to have frequent cleaning. During the visits, your dentist should also discuss your oral health and give recommendations to keep your gums in good shape.
The use of tobacco and its products is a risk factor for the development of periodontitis. Smokers have a more likelihood of developing gum disease. Avoiding tobacco will also ensure that treatment for periodontitis is effective.
Stress makes it difficult for your body’s immune system to fight infections. Gum disease starts as an infection; therefore, stress reduces the healing rate making the infection progress to periodontitis.
Maintain a Well-balanced Diet
Proper nutrition will help strengthen your immune system to fight infections like periodontitis. Consumption of foods rich in antioxidants will ensure that damaged tissues in your gums are repaired before progressing to become a severe gum disease. Avoiding excess sugary foods will provide a balance of bacteria in your mouth. Sugar and starch residues in your teeth create a conducive environment for the growth and flourishing of disease-causing bacteria.
Avoid Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
These actions exert constant pressure on your gums and could increase the rate at which they are damaged. Damaged gums have a higher risk of developing periodontitis.
Fight Dental Issues with a Dentist Near Downey
Gum disease can create great discomfort and pain if left untreated. Also, it lowers your confidence as a result of bad breath. Most people will not entrust their dental health to just anybody. Other than practicing general dental hygiene and home care of your oral health, you need to find a professional dentist you can trust. Our Dentists at the Downey Dentist provide comprehensive and affordable dental care for residents of Downey. Call us today at 562-746-0350 and allow us to take care of you.