Gum Disease: Types, Risks, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment Options
Gum disease is a common infection that occurs in the gum tissues. It affects almost half of the adult population in the U.S. While gum disease can be reversed if detected in early stages, in advanced stages it can cause tooth loss and several other serious health issues. Regular dental checkups and proper knowledge about gum disease are essential to maintain both your oral and overall health. Here is your go-to guide on everything you should know about gum disease - types, risks, symptoms, prevention and treatment options.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease or periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that leads to inflammation in your gums and the bones supporting your teeth. It usually results from poor oral hygiene that leads to the formation of a sticky bacterial film (plaque) on the teeth. Over time, the untreated plaque hardens and turns into tartar (calculus).
Types of Gum Disease
Here is a list of major types of gum diseases.
Gingivitis: It is the mildest form of gum disease. Generally caused by poor oral hygiene, gingivitis is a reversible stage of gum disease. Getting professional treatment and performing good oral care at home will help you restore your gum health.
Periodontitis: It is an advanced form of gum disease that impacts the bone and the supporting tissues. It is characterized by space or pocket formation between the tooth and gums, which might lead to lose teeth or loss of teeth.
Advanced Periodontitis: When the bone and the structure surrounding the teeth are destroyed, your teeth might shift or become loose. This can not only impact your bite but the way you eat and communicate. Tooth extractions may be necessary to stop further infection.
Advanced periodontitis is further subdivided into the following types:
- Chronic Periodontitis
- Aggressive Periodontitis
- Periodontitis Caused by Systemic Disease
What Are the Signs or Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be painless, but you should be aware of some of the major symptoms including:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer looking teeth
- Changes in your bite
If you think you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your dentist right away to prevent your gum disease from worsening.
What Risk Factors to Look Out for?
Gum disease not only impacts your oral health but your overall health too. Scientific studies have discovered the link between gum disease and diseases like stroke and diabetes. A few additional risk factors of gum disease that you should look out for include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Genetic susceptibility
- Malocclusion of teeth
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Poor oral hygiene
- Medication for steroids, and critical disease treatment
How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
You can make sure to stay safe of gum disease by:
- Maintaining proper oral hygiene at home
- Brushing and flossing regularly to avoid plaque
- Getting regular dental checkups
- Using an anti-gingivitis mouthwash
- Avoiding smoking or chewing tobacco
Treatment Options for Gum Desease
If you notice signs of gum infection, consult your dentist immediately. There are many treatment options depending on how severity of the infection. Here are some popular treatment options for gum disease:
- Antibiotic Therapy: Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment for gum infection. Your dentist may recommend an antibiotic pill or injection to restore the gum infection site.
- Root Planing and Scaling Treatment: This is an advanced treatment for gum infection. This method is used to thoroughly clean the space between your gums and teeth, and then smoothing the exposed surfaces of the roots.
- Gingivectomy: This surgical gum infection treatment is used for removing the gum tissues to reverse the effects of periodontal disease.
- Flap Surgery: This treatment method is used to treat severe forms of gum disease; it may involve bone or tissue grafts.
The American Dental Association (ADA), strongly recommends regular checkups with licensed dental professionals for everyone. This will help to catch issues early and you can receive the necessary treatment for gum disease before it worsens and requires major treatment.
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