What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, officially termed periodontal disease, results from the tissue that holds your gums in place being infected. The early stages are usually free of pain and other symptoms. This is why regular checkups are important. By time symptoms appear, the disease is more advanced, meaning it is harder to treat.
Symptoms include bad breath that won’t go away, swollen or red gums, tender gums, bleeding gums, pain while chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth and receding gums.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease results from dental plaque—that sticky film of bacteria that forms and builds up on teeth. You can manage plaque deposits by brushing and flossing regularly. If plaque is left unchecked, it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a professional cleaning. Self-care cannot treat it.
Is Gum Disease Just Part of Aging?
Getting older makes us more likely to develop certain health problems. But, some of these issues are not just inevitable due to the aging process, gum disease being one of them. It can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. This basic regimen can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing gum disease.
What Happens if It Goes Untreated?
Untreated gum disease can result in a lot of pain and discomfort. The most serious problem is tooth loss. It is the number one cause of tooth loss in older adults.
Is Gum Disease Linked to Any Other Health Problems
In recent years, research has found gum disease may increase the risk of developing other health problems. Some studies have found those who suffer from gum disease were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease or have problems controlling glucose levels (blood sugar).
But, as to whether there is a direction link remains to be seen. There is the possibility it is largely a coincidence, or something else is happening in the body, leading to the development of gum disease and these other health problems.
But, even if there is no link, saving your teeth should be good enough motivation to tend to your oral health properly.
What are Some Treatments for Gum Disease?
There are a variety of treatments available for gum disease, and the most appropriate for you will depend on a variety of individual factors, namely how advanced the damage. It is good to familiarize yourself with different options to make an informed decision. The sites of dentists in particular can be very helpful. For example, Dr. Scott Manhart, a Billings MT dentist shares a variety of videos discussing various treatments on his website.
Deep cleaning is usually the first line of defense. Scaling and root planning are other options, and certain medications may be prescribed with these treatments to optimize effectiveness. Surgical procedures such as bone and tissue grafts may be used in more advanced cases where inflammation and deep pockets remain after less invasive treatments. Flap surgery is a common treatment to remove tartar in deep pockets, which involves lifting back the gums and stitching them back into place so the tissue fits normally around the tooth again.