Gum disease is one of the most common health conditions in the world. In the United States, 95% of the responsible population – i.e., the patients who brush and floss and see their dentist every six months – still develop some degree of gum disease by age 65. (Patients who neglect their teeth have an overwhelming chance of major tooth loss by age 65). The good news: With modern techniques, gum disease is easy to manage; the chance of keeping almost all your teeth for a lifetime is excellent.
Another significant effect of gum disease is its effect on general health. With advanced gum disease, bacteria enter the circulation causing a host of problems including cardiovascular issues, exacerbation of diabetes, low birthweight babies and increased chance of certain cancers.
Gum Disease Can Be Treated.
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Gum Disease Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What is periodontal disease?
- What are the different types of gum infections?
- What are the early symptoms of gum disease?
- What are the stages of periodontal disease?
- Can gum disease be cured or reversed?
- What causes gum disease or gum recession?
- How do you treat gum disease?
- Is there a toothpaste I should use to prevent gum disease?
- What effect does gum disease have on my teeth?
- What is the connection between gum disease and heart disease?
What is periodontal disease?
Gum disease (periodontal disease) develops when teeth are not regularly maintained with good home oral hygiene and professional cleanings. . Plaque, a thin, sticky film, forms on your teeth when food debris and bacteria accumulate. No matter how meticulous the oral hygiene , some plaque will remain in the many “hiding places” within your teeth and harden into tartar, a tenacious deposit that cannot be removed except by a dental professional. Bacteria thrive in tartar and can spread to the gums, jawbone and roots of the teeth. As a result, the teeth become loose and infected. Extraction may be the only solution in advanced cases of gum disease.
What are the different types of gum infections?
The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, where accumulated tartar infects the collar of gum around the teeth. Gums are swollen and tend to bleed easily with brushing and flossing. Once the disease spreads to the supporting bone it is termed periodontitis. If neglected, the bone will be resorbed and teeth will become loose and fall out. Any bone lost from gum disease is gone forever – currently there are no techniques for reliably replacing bone lost to periodontal disease. Thus, once teeth are loose their prognosis is poor – they will continue to loosen, become infected and require extraction. The good news: Gum disease is easily treatable, and the procedures to cure it are virtually painless. Early detection is the key. Please make an appointment now by calling (617) 924-7301, or email [email protected]. And if you haven’t had a dental visit in 10 years, don’t worry. We understand.
What are the early symptoms of gum disease?
- Swollen, sensitive gums that bleed easily
- Receding, tender gums
- Loose teeth
- Changes in your bite (the way your teeth meet when chewing)
- Changes in the way partial dentures or dental bridges fit
What are the stages of periodontal disease?
Stage 1: Mild Periodontitis – In the earliest stage of periodontal disease, your gums are inflamed and may bleed when brushing and flossing, but there is no pain. Thorough professional cleaning, including debridement, is the only way to treat mild periodontitis, which cannot be reversed. Debridement is a treatment to remove bacteria and tartar from your teeth, gums, and tooth roots.
Stage 2: Moderate Periodontitis – There is additional damage to the ligaments and tissues between the tooth roots and the tooth socket at this stage.
Stage 3: Severe Periodontitis – Once your gum disease has become severe, you risk losing your teeth. While you still may not have pain, other symptoms include bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, and receding gums. Some teeth may feel loose. As severe periodontitis progresses, your gums may become sore, or you could develop abscesses. Treatment for severe periodontitis may include oral surgery, although some teeth may have to be extracted. It is crucial at this stage to talk to a periodontist. They have the most experience with gum disease and have pursued additional training focused on gum health. Your periodontist works to preserve your natural teeth by any means possible.
Stage 4: Severe Periodontitis – Patients at stage four have lost several or all of their teeth, with the remaining teeth in bad shape. They may be crooked, splayed, and so painful that eating and speaking are difficult. Patients with this level of periodontitis have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and severe oral infections. Treatment protocols for late-stage periodontitis may include extraction of teeth damaged beyond repair. Dr. Biebuyck’s goal is to preserve your natural teeth whenever possible, but this is not always possible at this stage.
Can gum disease be cured or reversed?
Yes, gum disease can absolutely be cured – the infection can literally be stopped in its tracks. However, early detection is the key. Any bone “eaten away” by the disease can never be restored.
What causes gum disease or gum recession?
The initial culprit is plaque build-up around the base of your teeth and along the gum line. This sticky coating has an impressive array of bacteria. If you cannot eliminate or minimize plaque with flossing and brushing, it hardens into tartar. Tartar is a host for thriving colonies of harmful bacteria. It is impossible to remove except by a dental professional using specialized tools. When tartar is not removed, the bacteria attack your gums, causing periodontitis. Other factors that can contribute to gum disease or gum recession include:
- Hereditary tendency to develop gum disease
- Hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Defective dental work, including damaged fillings or poorly fitted dental prosthesis
- Dry mouth caused by medication or illness
- Immunological diseases
How do you treat gum disease?
Your periodontist determines what treatment approach is best for you, depending on the severity of your gum disease. Three options may be used individually or in combination.
Scaling and Root Planing – This professional, deep-cleaning treatment removes bacteria around the tooth roots and below the gum line. This involves scraping away debris and infection around the roots of the teeth, then smoothing them to prevent new bacterial growth.
Surgery – If other treatments have failed, flap surgery is performed. This lifts the gums away from the tooth, allowing your periodontist to clean beneath the surface. Bone grafts or tissue grafts occasionally can be used to encourage the regrowth of healthy bone and in specific areas, but
Is there a toothpaste I should use to prevent gum disease?
There are toothpaste formulas that target gingivitis. Look for brand-name toothpaste such as Colgate Total, Paradontax, Crest Gum Detoxify, or The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums. Dr. Biebuyck can suggest a toothpaste appropriate for your gum disease level.
What effect does gum disease have on my teeth?
As periodontitis progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leading to crooked, shifting, and loose teeth. Over time, this can become so severe that teeth fall out.
What is the connection between gum disease and heart disease?
If you have gum disease, your risk of heart attack, stroke, or other debilitating cardiac events is two to three times higher than those without gum disease. Inflammation is one contributing factor. Long-term inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues can contribute to atherosclerosis, an accumulation of plaque in the arteries that puts an additional strain on the heart. However, not everyone with periodontitis develops a heart problem.
Early intervention is the best way to protect yourself against tooth loss due to gum disease. Please call (617) 924-7301 to schedule an appointment with our periodontist, Dr. Biebuyck, if you have symptoms of gum disease.
Have Further Questions?
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