Greenwood dentist discusses the importance of treating gum disease early for a cure
Gum disease is a common, and often devastating, oral health condition that affects many people. Without prompt and effective treatment, gum disease can cause pain, bone loss, and tooth loss. Identifying the symptoms of gum disease early and seeking prompt treatment is important to prevent lasting complications. If you are in the Greenwood area and think you may have some of the symptoms or risk factors for gum disease, it’s important to call and make an appointment as soon as possible.
Stages of Gum Disease
This is the beginning stage of gum disease when bacteria found in plaque begin to accumulate in the mouth. This causes inflammation of the gums which is the reason gums will bleed easily while brushing. At this stage, gums are irritated but there is no irreversible bone loss or tissue damage, so it can be cured. If gingivitis is not treated, it progresses into periodontitis.
During this stage, the periodontal tissue begins to separate from the teeth, forming pockets. These pockets will accumulate food debris and bacteria, eventually leading to infection. As the infection progresses, the pockets will get deeper as more bone and tissue are destroyed. This loss of bone and tissue causes the teeth to loosen from the socket and eventually leads to tooth loss.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
- Smoking – Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the biggest risk factors for the progression of gum disease.
- Age – People aged 65 and older have a higher rate of gum disease.
- Genetics – Research has shown that some patients are genetically predisposed to gum disease even with good oral hygiene.
- Stress – Stress is a risk factor because it can inhibit the body’s ability to fight off infection.
- Hormones – Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can increase risk for gum disease.
- Other systemic disease – Heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease can all increase the risk of gum disease.
- Poor health/nutrition – Poor diet and obesity can hurt the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight gum disease.
The importance of treating gum disease
The biggest reason it’s important to treat gum disease is the oral systemic connection. Your oral health is directly linked to your overall well-being. The excess bacteria that cause gum disease can travel through the bloodstream to other areas of the body such as the heart, increasing the risk for heart disease and coronary artery disease. The inflammation associated with gum disease can also increase the risk of other systemic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer.
When the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, pockets form that trap bacteria, leading to infection that spread below the gum line. In addition to putting you at risk for tooth loss, receding gums are unattractive and can cause increased tooth sensitivity.
When gum disease progresses without treatment, the infection will begin to attack the bone and connective tissue. Teeth may begin to loosen and fall out on their own or require extraction. Tooth loss will exacerbate bone resorption as the jawbone requires stimulation to continue to regenerate. Patients with tooth loss often turn to dental implants to prevent further bone and tooth loss.
Preventing gum disease
The best way to avoid tooth loss and other health complications from disease is prevention. Following a few simple steps can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Brush daily – Make sure you brush in the mornings and evenings, as well as after meals to remove food debris and plaque.
- Floss – Flossing every day removes food particles and plaque that our toothbrush can’t reach.
- Use mouthwash – Antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce plaque in the mouth.
- See your dentist – Regular exams and cleanings allow the dentist to identify early signs of gum disease and remove plaque build-up.
- Know the symptoms – Common signs include gums that bleed easily during brushing, receding gums, persistent bad breath, red or inflamed gums, loose teeth, change in bite, increased sensitivity, a change in the fit of dentures or other appliances.
If you are in the Greenwood area and would like to learn more about the importance of treating gum disease, call the office of Dr. Christopher T. Griffin at (864) 229-2610.Back to Periodontics Page