What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria and tartar build up along the gum line. As bacteria multiply, they release toxic substances which can damage gum tissue. When exposed to these toxins, the gums can start to detach from the teeth, providing additional opportunity for gum disease-causing bacteria to invade. Once the bacteria reach the tooth roots, they can cause bone loss which make teeth become loose and possibly fall out. Getting treatment for gum disease right away can help to reverse the damage and help gums stay healthy.
What Symptoms Does Gum Disease Cause?
Gum disease in its earliest stages causes very few symptoms, if any. In fact, many adults have gum disease but are not aware of it. However as gum disease progresses without treatment, it can begin to cause symptoms such as:
- sore or tender gums
- swollen gums
- gums which bleed, especially when brushing or flossing teeth
- chronic bad breath
- pain when chewing or biting
- sensitivity to cold
- loose teeth
- tooth loss
Gum disease can also can the gums to recede, which means they begin to pull away from the teeth. This process is what can eventually lead to tooth loss because as more of the tooth is exposed to the harmful bacteria the root of the tooth can become compromised and no longer support the tooth.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
How gum disease is treated will depend on the type of gum disease and how far the disease has advanced. In very mild cases, more frequent routine cleanings may be all that is needed to remove the buildup of bacteria and hardened tartar along the gum line and between teeth. However once the disease progresses to more serious stages, advanced cleaning treatments called root planing and scaling may be required. Scaling and root planing use special tools to gently reach below the gum line and remove bacteria around the root pocket in addition to smoothing out rough spots on tooth roots where bacteria tend to attach. At the office, laser gum therapy can be used to decontaminate periodontal pockets in addition to scaling and root planing.
When gum recession has progressed, a revolutionary technique referred to as pinhole gum surgery can rejuvenate the gums. This minimally invasive therapy uses a small pinhole to move the gum tissue without the need for cutting or stitches. This treatment used for gum recession is the most advanced available and patients heal very quickly.
Can I do Anything to Prevent Gum Disease?
Brushing and flossing regularly are important for the prevention of gum disease in addition to routine dental cleanings. Having your teeth cleaned every six months is the best way to prevent gum disease and also helps to address any problems which might occur in a timely manner.