What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
Gum disease is a common problem among American adults and many people do not even realize that they have it. While many Americans have the mild form that is called gingivitis, as many as 47.2 percent have the more severe form called periodontitis. This is 47.2 percent of adults – 64.7 million of them.
This statistic reveals that most Americans who have gum disease are not aware of it, and they probably do not know what it takes to get rid of it. Unfortunately, periodontitis is the main reason adults are losing their teeth today.
About Gum DiseaseGum disease is primarily caused by a lack of proper care of the teeth. In most cases, gum disease can be prevented simply by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing. This shows that many people have not established these simple oral habits in their life.
Bacteria and Gum DiseaseDisease of the gums is caused by bacteria that are normally found in your mouth. The bacteria produce acid when it comes in contact with sugar.
Through a buildup of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) on the teeth at the gum line, the bacteria get access into the gums and cause an immune reaction.
The immune response soon becomes an autoimmune response. It starts to attack the bacteria, the gums, the ligaments that support your teeth, and the jawbone. Eventually, the teeth become loose and may even fall out.
By failing to remove the plaque on a daily basis, you will likely get gum disease. Once it has started, it will progress to the more severe form of periodontitis unless your oral care improves and you see a dentist for help.
Two Types of Gum DiseaseGingivitis is the mild form of gum disease. Many people already have symptoms but do not recognize them for what they are. In fact, three-fourths of Americans over 35 already have this form of gum disease. If you have bleeding gums when you brush them and inflamed or red gums, then you already have gingivitis. Healthy gums do not bleed when you brush them.
Gingivitis progresses to become periodontitis over time. It is caused by the same bacteria, but it has been allowed to get worse. Now you can expect to see the following symptoms: receding gums, pockets forming on the gum line, pus along the gum line, spaces developing between teeth, bad breath, and loose teeth – which may eventually fall out. You will also likely have pain when you chew.
Gum disease is almost painless in the early stages. Once your teeth start to become loose, then you will feel pain. The truth is that it may be too late to save those teeth because the ligaments supporting them may have already been severely damaged.
More Serious ProblemsOnce gum disease has started, there is a problem that is much more serious that is already developing. Once the immune reaction has begun, the bacteria that causes the problems gain access to your bloodstream. The bacteria and inflammation start to form clots in your blood vessels. This may result in many serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks, dementia, diabetes, and even several types of cancer.
Risk Factors of Gum DiseaseThere are several risk factors that promote the development of gum disease. While it does not guarantee that you will get it, it does make it much more likely. Common risk factors include:
Use of tobacco
Pregnancy and hormonal changes
Bridges and dentures that do not fit well
Gum Disease TreatmentAfter diagnosing the level of gum disease present (there are four stages of periodontal disease), the periodontist will determine what types of treatment are needed. This may involve non-surgical or surgical treatments that may include:
Scaling and Root Planing – This procedure will likely be used with any treatment option. In this non-surgical procedure, the periodontist will pull back the gums and scrape out the bacteria and inflammation. A laser may be used to kill the bacteria, which does a more thorough job. Medication will likely be inserted into the pockets to destroy bacteria.
Other procedures may include flap surgery – a surgical procedure cutting the gums, removing the bacteria, and then stitching the gums close to the teeth to prevent reinfection. Other surgical procedures include bone grafts and gum grafts so that the teeth may be restored with a dental implant.
Preventing Gum DiseaseIf you do not have gum disease, you can take some steps to help prevent it. They include:
Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time
Using a fluoride-based toothpaste
Make regular dental visits for cleaning and a checkup.
If you have gum disease, getting treatment quickly can help save your teeth and smile. You can get periodontal disease treatment and other dental care from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He provides complete oral care in his dental offices in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.