Certain bacteria thrive in the warm, moist environment of the oral cavity, feeding off of sugars that remain in the mouth after eating. Those bacteria are found in plaque, and they can lead to cavities.
When those plaque and bacteria continue to build up, they can also wreak havoc on your gums, causing inflammation of the tissue.
Gum disease comes in many forms, from the mildest gingivitis to advanced periodontitis, which is much more severe. When periodontal (gum) disease is treated early, it is possible to stop its progression.
Patients who forego treatment are running the risk that the inflammation will not only continue to attack the gums but also affect other structures of the mouth.
The symptoms of gum disease will vary with its severity. Evidence of gingivitis may include red or swollen gums, or you may notice slight bleeding when you brush or floss along the gumline.
Patients with more advanced periodontal (gum) disease may have receding gums or pockets between the gums and the teeth. Their teeth may become looser, and they may have a problem with bad breath caused by the collection of bacteria in the mouth.
A number of different factors may contribute to gum disease. Patients with ineffective brushing and flossing techniques may be more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease, as they’re unable to clear away all of the bacteria. Genetics may also predispose certain patients to gum disease, and hormonal changes and stress may also be culprits.
Periodontal (gum) disease that has not progressed beyond the point of gingivitis typically can be reversed with a thorough professional cleaning, or prophylaxis. Periodontitis typically warrants more involved treatments.
A periodontist can rely on a variety of interventions to treat gum disease. One commonly used procedure is scaling and root planing, in which the periodontist thoroughly cleans the bacteria from pockets that develop in the gums. More advanced cases may require surgical procedures.
After your initial treatment, your periodontist help you to develop a plan to reduce your risk of future flare-ups. The periodontist can give you instruction on proper brushing and flossing techniques and advise you on lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, which will improve your periodontal health.
Learn more: Advanced Gum Disease Treatment
Signs and Symptoms of Advanced Dental Disease Including Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Chronic disease anywhere in the body is insidious, thus advanced symptoms may only appear late after significant damage has occurred.
Warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease include:
- Redness, tenderness, pain, swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or biting into an apple
- Insufficient long term flossing over a lifetime
- Receding gums, frequently described ‘getting long in the tooth’
- Teeth moving or shifting
- Loose teeth
- Appliances no longer fit comfortably
- Previous history of tooth loss including parents
- History of smoking, diabetes or other metabolic diseases