Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease we often hear about. However, if we leave our gingivitis untreated, we run the risk of developing a more severe stage of periodontitis disease that causes irreversible damage. We only get two sets of teeth, our baby and adult teeth. The idea of getting older and losing teeth doesn’t have to be true if we take the proper measures to care for our teeth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “47.2% of adults aged 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease.” The chances of getting gum disease increase as we get older with changes taking place in our health. With almost 50% of adults 30 and older experiencing one form of gum disease, we want to make sure our patients are more aware early signs of gum disease to prevent further damage to the teeth, gums, and bone. Anyone can get periodontal disease.
Also known as gum disease, is an infection caused by bacteria affecting the tissue and bone surrounding and supporting the tooth. When bacteria begin to develop on your teeth, it becomes plaque and tartar which start to change your gums. Your gums begin to pull away from the tooth, and in a more severe case, it can begin to damage the bone structure of your tooth leading to tooth loss.
It is the early stage of gum disease that is reversible. During this stage, the gums are inflamed and red making them appear swollen due to the plaque build up at the gumline. It is the only stage where gum disease can be reversed since it has not damaged the tissue or bone supporting the tooth.
- Common symptoms for gingivitis are
- Inflammation and redness in gums
- Tenderness in gums
- Bleeding during brushing or flossing
- Bad breath is constant or bad taste
These are early signs there might be some plaque build-up you need to have cleaned; otherwise, if it is left untreated, your gingivitis can develop into an irreversible stage.
There are different levels of severity during this stage. With slight periodontitis, an infection caused by bacteria has spread to the bone and gums. The supporting gum tissue begins to form a pocket where bacteria can enter and entrap food which results in bone damage. In a moderate level of periodontitis, the pockets formed become deeper affecting the tooth. Bacteria enters and builds up from underneath the gum line. During this stage, the damage becomes irreversible but manageable. The symptoms for this stage are similar to gingivitis with an additional symptom of receding gum lines.
The last stage of gum disease, where bacteria deepen that has now reached the jawbone supporting the tooth. At this stage, the forming pockets in the gum line get larger causing more gum recession which infects the supporting bone structure of the tooth. You run the risk of losing your tooth and affecting your bite. It is one of the uncomfortable stages you can experience with symptoms of
- Red swollen gums with oozing pus
- Tooth sensitivity (unusually cold)
- Severe toothaches
- Chewing pain
- Severe halitosis
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
It’s considered the dangerous stage of gum diseases because if it is left untreated, you run the risk of losing your tooth but having the infection spread causing more severe health problems. Once you’ve reached this stage, there will be a need for periodontal surgery.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Gum disease can happen to anyone; there is no age restriction to who can get it. Even though bacteria and plaque is the commonly known source of dental problems including gum disease, there are risk factors we have to consider that increase our chances.
- Poor Oral Hygiene – not brushing or flossing regularly daily can increase your chances of building plaque.
- Poor Nutrition – we need to have a well-balanced diet for our teeth to receive the nutrients it needs for bone development.
- Clenching/Grinding Bones – consistent clenching or grinding of the teeth can cause our gums to recede allowing bacteria to build up.
- Medical Conditions – certain medical illnesses can affect our dental health such as diabetes (increasing your chances of developing infections), osteoporosis, and cancer to name a few. It could even be genetic, and family medical history is important to examine.
- Medications – some medications affect our oral health with the side effects we develop for taking medicines. Some medication causes the production of our saliva to decrease leaving our tooth exposed and prone to bacteria.
- Smoking – smoking like alcohol is bad for our dental health. Smoking makes it difficult for our gums to heal and repair itself correctly.
Regular Dental Visits
Since gum disease develops slowly and is painless in the first stages, you may not know you have it which is why regular dental check-ups are a critical component to maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile. If we want to keep your adult teeth for years to come, we need care for them and what better way then to practice good oral hygiene and make regular visits with your dentist. Your dentist will be more likely to determine if there are dental problems that need to be addressed and what treatment is necessary. If you haven’t seen your dentist, make an appointment now! You call to book an appointment by calling us at 801-747-8000.
Periodontal Disease, Dr. Johnson. .ADA Patient Smart Patient Education Center.
Gum Disease. MouthHealthy.org