When thinking about oral health, most people think of their teeth and treatments like dental fillings and root canals. Although having healthy and clean teeth are an essential part of oral health, this is not all that is involved. It is important that your gums remain healthy since they are responsible for supporting your teeth. When adults lose their teeth, gum disease is the typical cause. And since gum disease does not always cause pain, you may not even realize that you have this common condition that affects almost half of all adults.
Medically known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. Oral bacteria can lead to the development of plaque, which is a sticky, colorless coating found on the surface of the teeth. By regularly brushing and flossing, you should be able to keep plaque away. However, many people neglect these important oral health habits, leading to the formation of plaque that hardens into tartar.
When plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, they release toxins that contact your gums. This can cause your gums to become inflamed or begin breaking down. You can also develop pockets in your gums that provide safe harbor for bacteria. The bacteria will continue to grow and reach into the bone under the teeth. This can eventually result in teeth that become loose and even fall out.
In its early stages, the disease may go undetected. As it progresses, certain symptoms become evident. You may find that your gums become red, tender and swollen. This is an early stage of gum disease in which your gums may also bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
Another common symptom is the presence of bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth. The progression of the disease may cause your gums to start pulling away from your teeth. When you have receding gums, your teeth may start becoming loose. You may also suspect gum disease if your bite changes and your teeth stop fitting together as they did before.
If your gum disease is in its early stages, medically known as gingivitis, your dentist can scale and clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar. The surfaces of your tooth roots may also be smoothed to prevent bacteria from having safe harbor there. You may also be required to take antibiotics.
The good news is that gum disease is reversible when detected and treated in its early stages. Patients normally respond well to early treatment for the resolution of early stage periodontal disease. In the case of more advanced gum disease, surgery may be necessary. This may involve using a laser to access tartar under the gum line. Once the tartar is removed, your oral surgeon will recontour the bone and replace gum tissue so that you can effectively brush and floss.
Learn more by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Monica Gobran today!