Everything You Need to Know About Gum Disease
Answering 7 Common Questions About Gum Disease
Achieving optimal oral health isn’t just about having decay-free teeth, it’s also about protecting your gums. Understanding what gum disease is and how to prevent it is the first step in maintaining or restoring your smile’s full health.
Gum disease is an oral health condition that impacts millions of Americans, especially those over the age of 30. It’s a leading cause of tooth loss and often the reason for necessary major full-mouth restoration treatments. The good news is this disease typically responds well to treatment, and regardless of what damage it might cause, an experienced dentist will help you get back a full, healthy smile.
Here are 7 frequently asked questions we receive from patients who are concerned about gum disease.
1. What is gum disease and its different stages?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a term used to describe inflammation and infection within the gums, primarily the gum pockets around each tooth. This disease is a multi-stage condition broken down into gingivitis and periodontitis phases.
Gingivitis is how most cases of gum disease start. It’s categorized by inflammation and gum irritation before infection sets in. Gingivitis is often lumped into the gum disease category, though it’s technically its own condition.
When gingivitis worsens, it eventually develops into periodontitis as gum pockets swell and infection presents itself. Periodontitis has a few phases: mild, moderate, and advanced or severe. Moderate to severe periodontitis is where permanent, irreversible damage can occur to your smile.
2. How do I know which stage of the disease I have?
Only a dentist can accurately diagnose the stage of gum disease you have. However, while you’re waiting for your appointment, you can get an idea of what’s going on based on the symptoms you may be experiencing.
If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, you may have gingivitis or very early periodontitis:
- Light bleeding while flossing or brushing
- Tenderness while flossing or brushing
- Redness or puffiness in your gums
- Stubborn bad breath
If you’re experiencing the above symptoms along with the following symptoms, you may have mild to moderate periodontitis:
- Pain in your gums
- A toothache-like feeling among multiple teeth
- Swelling in your gums
- Receding gums
- Strong halitosis
If you’re experiencing all of these symptoms plus the following, you most likely have moderate to severe periodontitis:
- Wiggly or loose teeth
- Pus present along the gumline
3. Inflamed gum pockets that are pulling away from the teeth. What does gum disease do to my smile?
Gum disease can wreak havoc on your smile in a number of ways, including:
- Painful, bleeding gums
- Chronic halitosis (bad breath)
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Loss of teeth
- Loss of gum tissue
- Loss of jawbone
While gingivitis and mild periodontal disease may not permanently harm your smile, moderate to advanced periodontitis will cause lasting damage requiring future restorative care or surgery.
4. What does gum disease do to my body?
The effects of gum disease aren’t just limited to your smile, which is why periodontitis is a serious general medical concern.
Your mouth is a very vascular area of the body, connected to a highway of blood vessels that travel throughout your body. As periodontitis advances and infection develops, bacteria can enter your bloodstream from your mouth and move throughout your body. This can lead to an increased risk of many inflammatory health conditions, including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.
5. How is gum disease treated?
The treatment for this disease typically involves a type of treatment called periodontal therapy. Periodontal therapy is a term used to describe a unique deep cleaning process that removes bacteria, dead tissue, and infection from the gum pockets around each tooth. Your dentist will usually refer to this cleaning as “scaling and root planing.”
Advanced periodontitis that has attacked the teeth, gum tissue, and jawbone may require oral surgery to repair the damage that has been done. If you’ve lost teeth, your dentist will also create a full-mouth restoration treatment plan to recover your smile, often with dental implants.
Throughout your treatment process, you’ll also receive guidance on how to care for your smile at home to maintain your results. Your dentist may supply you with special oral care products with antimicrobial properties to help your gums heal.
6. If I’ve had gum disease before, will I get it again?
Having gum disease once doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop it again. However, you could remain at a higher risk for relapse if your gum disease was linked to lifestyle risks, medications, and other factors that continue after your initial treatment.
If this applies to you and your lifestyle or general health, your dentist will help you create a specialized dental care routine that emphasizes gum disease prevention. This may also include more frequent checkups and cleanings.
7. How can I prevent gum disease from developing?
You can prevent gum disease in three ways:
- Follow a thorough at-home dental care routine and eat a smile-friendly diet
- See your dentist at least every six months for a checkup
- Reduce lifestyle risks if possible (e.g., quit smoking)
All three of these factors need to be prioritized for them to be effective. For example, taking immaculate care of your smile at home is the foundation for optimal oral health, but it doesn’t negate the necessity for biannual checkups.
Prioritize your periodontal health with the help of Farless Dental Group.
Dr. Farless and his dedicated team of dental care professionals will help you along your journey toward optimal oral health. From gingivitis treatment to full-mouth recovery post-periodontitis, Farless Dental Group has all of the bases covered when it comes to helping you maintain or restore your gum health.You can schedule an appointment today by calling our Greensboro, NC, office or requesting a visit online.