There are always a number of questions surrounding the topic of gum disease, so let’s tackle it once and for all.
What is Gum/Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an infection of the tissue that holds the teeth in place. There are two forms of periodontal disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis.
What’s the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, swelling, and redness of the gingiva, and is the reversible form of gum disease. However, if left untreated gingivitis can lead to a much more serious gum disease called periodontitis.
Periodontitis is an advanced periodontal disease where the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth creating pockets where additional bacteria can build up and cause an infection. Periodontitis can damage the gums and the bone around the teeth leading to bonelessness. This form of gum disease causes irreversible damage and can cause teeth to loosen which can lead to teeth loss.
What Causes Gum/Periodontal Disease?
- Plaque is a sticky film composed mainly of starch, sugar, and bacteria. Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease.
- Plaque Turns into Tartar/Calculus. Plaque that stays on your teeth can harden under your gumline into tartar (calculus), which collects bacteria. Tartar makes plaque more difficult to remove, creates a protective shield for bacteria, and causes irritation along the gumline. You need professional dental cleaning to remove tartar.
- Poor Oral Hygiene Habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gum disease to develop.
- Misaligned or Crowded Teeth: This can make it much harder for patients to properly clean their teeth. Food is more likely to stay trapped in hard-to-reach places, contributing to the build-up of plaque and tartar that cause periodontal disease.
- Family History of Dental Disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis and Periodontitis.
- Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for Periodontal disease to develop.
- Systematic Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.
- Drugs or Medications can affect oral health because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia and Adalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
- Defective Dental Work: Crowns and fillings with gaps or overhangs can cause more accumulation of plaque and bacteria.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum/Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease may develop painlessly, generating few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease.
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding Gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad Breath
- Receding gums
- Deep Pockets between the teeth and the gums
- Loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Tender gums
How to Treat Gum/Periodontal Disease?
Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment. Such as deep cleaning of the tooth-root surfaces below the gums, antibacterial drugs, and sometimes corrective surgery.
Five Things you can do to prevent Gum/Periodontal disease
- Brush and floss twice a day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- See the dentist and the hygienist at a year for routine checkups, or more frequently if any of the warning signs or risk factors listed above
- Use an Electric Toothbrush and water flosser for a more efficient cleaning and a good power wash.
- Eat a healthy fiber-rich diet, and drink a lot of water.
- Quit smoking and start taking Vitamin D and C.
By: Dr. Akram Sannaa, DMD