You may have heard the terms “gingivitis” and “periodontal disease.” While the terms are mostly interchangeable, there is a distinction. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums; it is an early stage in periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, causing shrinkage of the gum tissue and loosening of teeth. It is commonly known as gum disease.
Gum disease consists of 4 stages, from the early (and often reversible) gingivitis, to the advanced stage where the tooth is undermined and eventually falls out.
The stages are:
- 1: Gingivitis with symptoms of inflamed or red gums that bleed when brushed.
- 2: Early periodontitis with a slight loss of the bone supporting the teeth.
- 3: Moderate periodontitis with the destruction of more gum tissue and loosening of the teeth.
- 4: Advanced periodontitis with severe symptoms—loosening teeth, painful chewing and biting, and eventual loss of the affected tooth.
Each stage of gum disease can be treated through periodontal therapy and treatment available at your dentist.
The Causes and Risks of Periodontal Disease
The major cause of gum disease is anaerobic bacteria. Bacteria can thrive in the mouth as a result of poor dental hygiene and neglect. When the sugar and starches in your food interact with the bacteria in your mouth, they form a sticky substance called plaque, which can harden under your gumline.
Plaque can crowd and irritate the gingiva—the gum tissue around the base of the tooth—and cause gingivitis. Left untreated, the gums can become swollen, bleed, and teeth can be undermined through bone loss, cavities and decay.
Many are at risk for oral periodontal disease
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- About 47% of adults past 30 years of age now suffer from some stage of periodontal disease.
- A whopping 70+% of adults past age 65 suffer from periodontal disease.
- Men are more likely than women to suffer from some stage of periodontal disease.
- People living below the poverty line or have less than a high school education have a greater than 65% incidence of periodontal disease.
- If you smoke or chew tobacco, your chances of suffering from periodontal disease are 64.2%.
Also, there are other risk factors for periodontal disease. You are at risk if you:
- have poor dental hygiene habits.
- are older and have health or cognition problems.
- have a family history of gum disease.
- are taking medication that causes dry mouth.
- suffer from Vitamin C deficiency or otherwise have poor nutrition.
- have hard-to-clean crooked teeth or badly fitting dentures.
- suffer from HIV/AIDS, leukemia, or are being treated for cancer.
- take drugs for angina, epilepsy, high blood pressure.
- use birth control pills or are pregnant.
Periodontal Disease Treatment Procedures
The best safeguard against periodontal disease is early detection through regular checkups with your dentist.
The most effective treatment to prevent gum disease is a thorough cleaning of the pockets around your teeth to prevent or arrest damage to the surrounding bone. If your gum disease is not advanced, your dentist can employ less invasive treatment, which consists of:
- removing tartar through scaling of the tooth surfaces and beneath the gums.
- discouraging further tartar buildup and removing the byproducts of tartar-causing bacteria through planning of the tooth root
- applying oral or topical antibiotics that control bacterial infection
Surgical Periodontal Dental Treatment
We use periodontal surgical techniques that include:
- Pocket reduction, when the gaps between the gums and teeth are too broad for home cleaning or routine professional care.
- Soft tissue gum grafting from existing gum tissue or a laboratory source to arrest further gum recession and prevent further bone loss.
- Crown restoration for a broken or decayed tooth with sufficient root structure below the gum line.
Contact Us for Care
You can do your part in preventing gum disease. Between your scheduled visits to your dentist, you should practice good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash twice daily. Also, eat a balanced diet and watch what you eat and drink. And, above all, don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, don’t delay. Schedule an appointment online or call our office at 337-233.1271.