Gum disease, more officially called periodontal disease, affects many people from all walks of life. Symptoms can range from mild gum irritation and swelling to serious damage to the gums and even the jaw bones. If not treated, gum disease can worsen and spread, making it vital to practice preventative care and stop infections before they become severe.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The human mouth is filled with bacteria. Some of these bacteria aid in digestion while others dwell there after entering from outside sources, such as food or contaminated surfaces. These bacteria often stay to feed on the microscopic food particles left behind in a person’s mouth, and the result is a sticky plaque that clings to the patient’s teeth.
Plaque is usually removed through brushing and flossing, but it’s possible to miss the plaque in some crevices. Once it hardens, plaque is called tartar and can only be removed by special dental equipment during a teeth-cleaning appointment. Even in its hardened state, tartar can harbor many bacteria, and these bacteria can cause gum inflammation and an infection called gingivitis.
If allowed to progress untreated, gingivitis will worsen and become periodontitis, which causes the gum to recede from the base of the tooth. Sometimes pockets are created, which may lead to abscesses. The receding gum line also contributes to rapid tooth decay and bone deterioration. Ultimately, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and, in severe cases, bone loss from the jaw.
Treating Gum Disease
Fortunately, gum disease is a slow process that responds well to treatment. Early stages can be reversed completely through routine teeth cleanings and daily dental care. Even advanced gum disease can be effectively treated, and solutions can be found for the pain and tooth loss often associated with periodontitis.
If you’re currently experiencing gum swelling, halitosis or other symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to meet with a dentist before more permanent damage occurs. You can contact us to make an appointment for a dental exam and to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about maintaining the well-being of your teeth and gums.