23 Mar 2015
Gum disease is a serious dental disease that unfortunately affects millions of people worldwide. Gum disease or periodontal disease refers to the distruction of tissue and damage to bone which eventually leads to teeth loss. Gum disease is directly linked to the presence of bacteria within your mouth. The first stage of gum disease is caused by plaque, a microfilm of bacteria always present on the surface of your teeth. If not regularly removed, plaque hardens and transforms into tartar (also known as calculus). Unlike plaque which can be removed simply by following a regular daily dental hygiene routine, tartar can only be removed when undergoing professional cleaning.
The first stage of gum disease causes gingivitis and periodontitis, the inflammation of gums and tissue surrounding your teeth's root. Gingivitis is characterized by swollen, red gums, also followed by bleeds especially during brushing.
If left untreated, gingivitis leads to periodontitis. In this stage your gums recede just to form pockets between the gums and the tooth's root. These pockets get usually filled with bacteria in consequence of the food stuck in these little spaces and difficult to remove simply by brushing. The bacteria present in the pockets, advance all the way up to the bone holding your teeth in place, destroying it bit by bit. In time, the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth result in severe damages and cannot support the teeth below the gums, resulting in teeth loss.
The main symptoms of gum disease are the following:
- bad breath
- receding gums
- tiny pockets of space between gums and teeth
- loose teeth
It's very important to understand that sometimes the symptoms of gum diease are barely perceptible, making it hard for a person to recognize the disease and react in a timely manner. That is why regular check ups are key in preventing complications related to the different stages of gum disease as described above.
There are many treatments available to treat gum disease and prevent the deterioration of gums, bone and dental tissue. Among the most common treatments, we include:
Curettage: involves scraping off the infected tissue
Flap surgery: aims at removing the tartar formed underneath the gums
Tissue regeneration: after having had a flap surgery, a tissue regeneration treatment is applied in order to stimulate bone and tissue growth
Bone grafts: consists in replacing the bone damaged by bacteria
Bone surgery: aims at reshaping the bone in order to minimize craters where bacteria is easily accumulated
Remember that prevention in terms or regular dental hygiene to prevent plaque from hardening and check ups least twice a year are your best weapon to maintain healthy teeth and a great smile over time.