What You Need to Know About Gum Disease

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Get The Facts On Gum Disease

Gum disease is more appropriately called “periodontal disease.” It is a key cause of tooth loss and it is linked to other dangerous diseases, like diabetes and heart (cardio) issues. Symptoms of gum disease include swollen, red, and bleeding gums. These also are the early signs of gum disease.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) this unfortunate “link” to other diseases has been confirmed by multiple studies. AAP also states there are different types of gum disease.

What Is Gum Disease and Its Forms?

Gum disease typically involves plaque that has spread and now grows below your gum line. The toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque generates a “chronic inflammatory response” that causes both tissues and bone (that hold teeth) to break down and destroy themselves.

Types: Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild periodontal disease, which causes your gums to get swollen, red, and bleed when brushing. Typically, there is little or no pain associated with Gingivitis. But it can progress to one or more of the forms of periodontal disease if left untreated.

Types: Periodontitis

Gingivitis often progresses to “Periodontitis” if the former (Gingivitis) is not treated early and properly. When this condition occurs your gums eventually separate from your teeth, while forming spaces that become infected and red. The inherent bacterial toxins in the plaque will break down your bone that holds your teeth.

Types of Periodontitis:

  • Aggressive periodontitis—This condition typically happens to clinically healthy patients. Its signs manifest a rapid tooth unattachment and significant bone destruction.
  • Chronic periodontitis—This type causes supporting tissue inflammation, leading to progressive bone loss. This is the most common form of periodontitis, featuring space (pocket) formation and receding gums.
  • Manifestation of systemic diseases—This condition typically starts at a young age and indicates other issues, such as heart and/or respiratory disease, diabetes, or other serious health issues.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease—This infection causes necrosis (death of all cells in an organ) of gum tissues and periodontal ligaments.

Treatment for Gum Disease

There are both surgical and non-surgical procedures for treating gum disease. If not treated early, some gum disease may need to be treated by surgical procedures only.

Non-surgical treatments—include professional cleaning by a dentist or other trained dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar. Scaling and “root planning” also are non-surgical deep cleaning treatments that use local anesthetics. Most scaling procedures remove “rough spots” caused by bacteria, providing a clean surface for your gums to reattach to your teeth. Root planning involves your dentist noting that you have plaque under your gums that needs to be removed and your tooth roots smoothed out.

Surgical treatments—include so-called “flap surgery” (pocket reduction surgery) whereby your gums are lifted back as plaque and tartar are cleaned away. Bone grafts also are used to replace bone that is destroyed by periodontal disease. This grafted bone may be fragments of your own bone or synthetic bone. Some other surgical procedures used are “soft tissue grafts” and “guided tissue regeneration” most often performed in conjunction with flap surgery.

Now you know what gum disease is, common symptoms, and how it’s treated by dental professionals. You also know potentially far-reaching gum disease can be, sometimes signifying other general health problems. Take care of your gums as diligently as you care for your teeth.

Source: AAP: https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease.htm

My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.

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