|Updated: 11/23/2011 12:19 pm
||Published: 11/23/2011 12:11 pm
1. What is Gum Disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. It is this bacteria, along w/ saliva and food particles that forms a layer on the teeth called plaque. When this plaque is not removed it can become tartar or calculus and then can only be removed by a professional cleaning by your dentist or hygienist. If plaque and/or tarter remain it can cause an inflammatory reaction in the gums and if this persists it can cause gum disease.
2. What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis mild and can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental cleaning. There is no loss of bone or recession of gum tissue with gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can turn into periodontitis. When it progresses enough the gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
3. Are there certain risk factors that can lead to gum disease?
The number one risk factor that I see in my practice is poor home care, meaning people are not brushing and flossing properly and as often as needed.
Other risk factors include:
Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop
Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease
Stress. Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease
Medications. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva.
Illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums
4. How do I know if I have gum disease?
Generally the first signs noticed are gums that are swollen and red and that easily bleed when brushed or flossed.
Later as the disease progresses there will be recession of gum tissue, loosening and even loss of teeth.
5. What Can I do to prevent gum disease and how is it treated?
The best prevention is good home care and regular visits to your dentist.
There are a variety of treatments depending on the severity and progression of the gum disease. Usually deep cleanings are involved and occur every 3-4 months instead of the usual 6 months. There is also a slew of oral medications, mouth rinses etc. depending on individual needs