If your dentist has told you that you have gum (or periodontal) disease, you aren’t alone. Many U.S. adults have some type of gum disease, which can range from simple inflammation to a serious condition that results in major damage to the bone and soft tissue supporting the teeth. In a worst case scenario, the teeth may be lost. Fortunately, the way you care for your teeth will have a direct effect on whether you experience the symptoms of gum disease.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
While gum disease can affect anyone, there are certain risk factors that may make you more likely to develop the condition:
Gum Disease Warning Signs
There are several signs that may indicate that you could be dealing with a form of gum disease:
Types of Gum Disease
There are two main types of gum disease of which you should be aware: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a mild variant of gum disease that is caused by inflammation due to plaque and tartar accumulation. This form of periodontal disease can usually be reversed with proper brushing and flossing along with regular dental cleanings. Loss of tissue or bone is not associated with this type of gum disease.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress into periodontitis. This form of gum disease involves the gums pulling away from the teeth, and pockets can form in the gums and become infected. Bacteria and plaque will spread and grow under the gum line. If left untreated, the tissue, gums, and bones that the support the teeth will be destroyed, and the end result may be teeth that are loose and need to be removed.
Treating Gum Disease
The treatment option that you will utilize to overcome gum disease will depend on what stage of the disease you are in. If you have gingivitis, proper oral hygiene and dental cleanings can reverse the condition, but for more advanced cases, other treatment options may be necessary. Deep cleaning via scaling and root planing may be needed to remove plaque and tartar, resulting is less swelling, bleeding, and discomfort.
In some cases, surgical intervention may also be necessary for the treatment of gum disease. If deep pockets and inflammation remain following the use of deep cleaning, your dentist may need to use flap surgery in order to remove tartar deposits found in the deep pockets, or the pockets may be reduced in order to better keep the area clean. Bone and tissue grafts may also be needed to help regenerate gum tissue or bone loss that occurred as a result of gum disease.
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