What is gum disease?
It is an infection that affects the gums caused by buildup of food material that gets calcified over time.
Early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) includes swollen, bleeding gums. Some people experience no symptoms. It is reversible with timely treatment.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) occurs when the gums’ inner layer detaches from the teeth and forms pockets. Periodontitis is defined by the loss of bone supporting the teeth.The damage done due to periodontitis may be irreversible.
Who is at a higher risk of getting gum disease?
You may face a higher risk of gum disease if you:
- Do not have good dental hygiene habits.
- Use tobacco and tobacco products
- Have crowded teeth, loose fillings or permanent dental appliances like bridges that are ill fitting
- Have diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and immune system disorders like HIV and AIDS.
- Have an immediate family member with a history of gum disease or early tooth loss.
- Avoid taking regular dental check ups
Gum disease symptoms
- Bleeding, swollen gums
- Flaky deposits on teeth and discolored teeth
- Loose teeth
- Tendency to suck in food between teeth
What type of healthcare provider can help you?
A dentist can diagnose and treat early gingivitis. You may need to see a specialist called a periodontist for advanced gum disease or symptoms that do not respond to standard management. Periodontists are specialist dentists with extra training in treating complex gum disease.
How is periodontitis diagnosed?
How long can you keep your teeth with periodontal disease? The evaluation starts by learning about your medical history and if you have any risk factors for gum disease .Your dentist then assesses your gums for signs of inflammation. They may use an instrument (probe) to measure pockets around the teeth.
How will you know if you have gingivitis if you can’t feel the symptoms?
Dental providers check for signs of gum infections during a dental check-up. If your gums appear swollen or bleed easily, it may be due to gingivitis. For gum infection treatment your dentist will use a probe to check for pockets and an explorer to assess debris and calculus. Gingivitis does not affect the bone surrounding your teeth and therefore usually can’t be diagnosed from dental x-rays. Full mouth x-rays may be carried out to determine the amount and type of bone loss due to periodontitis.
How is early-stage gum disease treated?
The best treatment for gingivitis is a professional cleaning. Your dentist detects and removes plaque and calculus and may give you a prescription mouth wash containing chlorhexidine for subsequent use. Once these substances are gone, your gums will heal on their own, and no other treatment is necessary. Your dentist will also review the tools and techniques you should carry out to be more effective at home at preventing gingivitis from recurring.
How is periodontitis treated?
Scaling and root debridement is a procedure to clear away plaque and calculus that has spread to the tooth’s root and affected the bone. In the early stages of periodontitis, if the bone is not affected, deep scaling and root debridement under local anesthesia will help to control the condition. However, in other cases, periodontists may need to rebuild the bone surrounding your teeth that was lost from the periodontal disease by a periodontal flap surgery procedure employing bone grafts. In extreme cases the tooth or teeth may need to be extracted.
What happens if your teeth fall out?
If you do end up losing teeth, there are options for rehabilitation of teeth that may be removable or fixed that can restore a natural-looking smile. Dental implants one of the most sought after options for tooth replacement and are devices that look and feel like teeth in that they can’t be removed. The procedure to insert them is relatively quick and painless.
How can you prevent periodontal disease?
Steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease include:
- Brushing your teeth twice daily employing a proper toothbrushing technique
- Flossing to remove plaque deposits between the teeth
- Using mouthwash to get rid of bacteria that may remain on your teeth after brushing.
- Getting regular teeth cleaning and dental exams.
- Quitting smoking and use of tobacco products
What is the outlook for people with periodontal disease?
The impact of periodontal disease on your dental and general health depends on the severity and the treatment you receive. Seeing a periodontist and following their specific instructions for your gum health gives you the best chances for good results in the long run. Your oral hygiene habits and presence of any systemic complications may also influence prognosis.
Can periodontal disease recur?
Even with successful treatment, periodontal disease can come back. This is why regular at home self-cleansing measures as well as maintenance checkups with the dentist is of prime significance. If you start noticing symptoms, like swollen or bleeding gums, it’s important to immediately visit your dentist or periodontist.