What you need to know about Gum Disease: signs and symptoms
What is Gum Disease?
It is an infection of the tissues and bones surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and can be linked to other medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Dr. Cobb and the team at Alex Bell Dental in Centerville, OH specialize in treating the two principal stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, consisting of swelling in the gums that often bleed when a patient brushes his or her teeth. Gingivitis doesn’t cause any pain and often goes unnoticed. It is important to seek treatment for gingivitis before it progresses into the more serious periodontitis.
Gingivitis is generally caused by improper daily oral hygiene. When sugars and starches we eat interact with bacteria that are naturally found in the mouth, plaque begins to form on our teeth. This can happen very quickly, within 24 hours after brushing your teeth. Once that plaque is left in the mouth for several days it becomes tartar and is harder to simply “brush away.” This bacteria laden plaque builds up on the teeth and the bacteria releases acids that irritate the gums, causing gingivitis. Tartar must be removed by a dental professional using techniques and special tools to scrape it off the teeth.
Risk factors for gingivitis include smoking, diabetes, poor nutrition, pregnancy, aging, HIV infection, and the use of certain medications.
If the gingivitis is not treated, gums will become increasingly more irritated and eventually the condition will progress into periodontitis.
When left untreated, the plaque will spread below the gum line. The toxins in the plaque stimulate an anti-inflammatory response, causing the gum to separate from the teeth and form pockets. As the disease continues to progress, the pockets will become infected and destroy the tissues and bones, leading to eventual tooth loss.
Patients who have gum disease that has advanced into periodontitis may notice oozing gums, abscesses, loosening of teeth, bad breath, pain, swelling, and bleeding.
Gum disease can become very serious if left untreated. With proper oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, patients can avoid potentially painful complications. Dr. Cobb recommends twice-yearly checkups to closely monitor the mouth for any signs of gum disease.
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