Gum Problems Get Below the Surface
If your gums bleed frequently, appear swollen, and hurt when you chew, you likely are one of millions of Americans that have some sort of gum disease. And while many gum problems can be resolved on their own with proper brushing and flossing – or remedied at your regular dental cleaning – those that go untreated have the potential to become much more severe.
It’s estimated that half of all Americans ages 30 and up, or about 64.7 million people, have some level of periodontitis, which is an advanced gum condition that can damage gum tissue, bone, and teeth. This disease has also been linked with heart disease.
Here’s a look at some common gum issues that people encounter, as well as what causes them and what to do about them.
Plaque is the root of all evil when it comes to gum disease. If it’s allowed to build up, it will eventually lead to gingivitis and possibly, periodontal disease as well as tooth decay. That’s why it’s important to follow the dental recommendation of brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. That’s in addition to professional cleanings every six months.
Gingivitis occurs when plaque and tartar stay on the teeth for long periods of time, eventually causing gum inflammation. Gingivitis is a minor disease that can typically be easily reversed with regular dental cleanings and an increased focus on brushing and flossing. Some signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Red-colored gums
- Swollen gums
- Easily bleeding gums
If gingivitis isn’t addressed and is allowed to progress, it may eventually lead to periodontal disease. Unlike gingivitis, periodontal disease affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth.
- Periodontitis: This advanced periodontal disease occurs when gums pull away from the tooth and the “pockets” that are formed become infected. The plaque eventually spreads below the gum line, and the body fights infection by breaking down the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place. If left untreated, the bones, tissue, and teeth can all be ruined.
- Chronic periodontitis: This is the most advanced form of periodontal disease. It can be hard to control and is very destructive, leading to tooth loss and even heart disease. It can be triggered by things like genetics, smoking, medication, and diet, in addition to poor oral health.
Treating Gum Problems
Gum disease is treated based on the severity of the situation. For instance, gingivitis can be reversed with more attention to home oral care and seeing the dentist as recommended. Periodontal disease can progress to the point where advanced procedures, such as scaling and root planing, a deep gum cleaning, or flap surgery, are deemed necessary. Adjusting lifestyle habits, such as quitting smoking and eating better can also help improve gum health.
Our friendly and experienced staff is equipped to treat most types of gum conditions, working closely with periodontal specialists on the most severe cases, to help you get back on the right path to good oral health. For more information on gum health and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, contact us today at 803-359-6143.