Taking care of our oral health isn’t a new thing. For millennia, humans have known about the importance of dental hygiene. In fact, a basic form of toothbrushes was found as far back as Ancient Egyptian civilization!
If ancient societies knew that taking care of your gums and teeth was essential, we should be even more aware of this fact in modern times. But problems like gum disease remain a major issue for millions of people, even those of us who brush daily.
Brushing isn’t enough to prevent you from developing gum disease. Knowledge of how this condition develops and spreads is the best way you can avoid it. Since gingivitis and periodontitis are leading causes of tooth loss, it’s pretty important that you know the facts about these gum diseases.
What is Gum Disease, Anyway?
It might sound gross, but your mouth (and everyone else’s) is full of microorganisms like bacteria. They’re hard to get rid of, but good oral hygiene keeps them from spreading. This includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as heading to Cimarron Dental for your checkups and exams.
We see patients who have varying stages of gum disease daily. Most people have a mild form called gingivitis that, when caught early enough, can be reversed. But when the problem is left untreated, it becomes something called periodontal disease – a dangerous and irreversible condition.
The Two Types of Gum Disease
Gum disease can come in two forms. Both of them start out the same: when excess plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, they become a sticky film. This substance slowly erodes the enamel and gets into the gums, causing swelling and infection. Left untreated, it turns into a form of gum disease called periodontitis.
Catching the early stages of gingivitis is a good thing. It means you have time to reverse the damage. The problem is that not all gingivitis is apparent. The symptoms can be so mild that by the time you realize there’s something going on with your teeth and gums, it has become periodontal disease.
As you brush and floss, you know what you normally expect. If you begin to see other unusual things happening, such as bleeding or swelling in the teeth and gums, you could have gingivitis, or something more advanced. Don’t try to figure out if it’s gingivitis vs periodontitis on your own. Call our office and let us know what your symptoms are, and we’ll help you figure out how to treat the problem.
If you’ve been diagnosed with the gum disease gingivitis, think of it as a good thing! You know there’s something going on early enough that you can reverse it. Red and inflamed gums aren’t fun, but with a few small tweaks in your routine, you can get rid of the condition completely.
With this type of gum disease, it’s often harder to catch early because many symptoms are mild or random. But when you know what to look for, it’s easier to spot a minor problem before it becomes a major issue.
Warning Signs of Gingivitis
When you brush your teeth, always check your gum line after you scrub. If you begin to see any bleeding or gum inflammation, start watching more closely. The problem may worsen or go away and come back. If so, you could have the start of gum disease.
Stopping Gingivitis in Its Tracks
As soon as you suspect there’s a problem, start working on a better oral health routine. Brush and floss twice a day. If you already are, and there’s still an issue, it could be that you’re not using the right techniques. Yes, it matters how you hold your toothbrush and floss when you use them, and quality products make a difference, too.
In addition to your at-home care, be sure to get regular dental checkups. In each dental exam, your dentist checks for early signs of problems like gum disease. If they’re found, it’s easier to fix them before they turn painful, like serious gum infections, bone loss, or other chronic health conditions.
Everything You Need to Know About Periodontitis
When gingivitis turns into a serious gum infection that isn’t treated, it becomes periodontitis. This is a gum disease that progresses in stages. Soon, only a dentist will be able to help you keep a handle on the symptoms and prevent this form of gum disease from spreading.
While it starts out as plaque buildup in its mildest form, periodontal disease becomes inflammation in the periodontium – the bone and gum tissue that connects your teeth and jaw. As harmful bacteria gradually form pockets under the gum line, they infect the gums and periodontitis develops.
Aggressive periodontitis isn’t localized to the mouth. As an infection, it spreads. Your body’s immune system fights the infection, but if it’s not treated, the damage worsens. Untreated periodontitis can cause cardiovascular disease and many other health conditions. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care help prevent the spread of infection.
How to Know if You Have Periodontal Disease
In the early stage of gum disease, you develop gingivitis and the mild symptoms that come with it. Then, if it progresses, the next stage is early periodontitis. At this point, it’s necessary to visit a dentist to help control the disease.
Under the surface of your gums, plaque and bacterial growth are spreading. As they do, the symptoms show up as persistent unpleasant breath, sensitive teeth, bright red gums, and an increase in bleeding. Healthy gum tissue becomes unhealthy gums that create poor tooth alignment. The connective tissue loosens, causing your teeth to become misaligned. Loose teeth, receding gums, and eventual tooth loss are the result.
Other risk factors come with chronic periodontitis. As healthy gum tissue becomes infected and that infection spreads, your doctor and dentist will monitor the disease. If it’s not minimized, your chronic inflammatory response will kick in and the problem will get worse. A poor diet and other factors add to the risk of lost bone and serious health conditions. It’s essential to prevent gingivitis from harming your gum health with proper oral hygiene.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
A good oral hygiene routine and a professional dental cleaning are the first places to start when you have periodontitis. Depending on the level of your receding gums and infection, the dentist may prescribe an antibiotic and a root planing procedure. In this process, special tools get under the gum line, where your gums collect debris. With a professional cleaning and these tools, the debris under the gums is removed. Then, the clean gums are able to reattach to the tooth.
Occasionally, if the gum disease hits the advanced stages, you’ll have to see the dentist regularly. Surgical treatment could be the next step. In a gum disease surgery, we’ll open up the infected soft tissue in the swollen gums. Then, we’ll remove the infection at the source and sew the gum tissue back together. As long as you don’t continue with poor oral hygiene, your new, healthy gums and teeth will reconnect.
Preventing and Treating Gum Disease
Bleeding gums are a surefire sign that there’s a problem. When plaque spreads in your mouth and gingivitis progresses, it can turn into periodontal diseases, but it doesn’t have to. With a thorough dental cleaning and at-home care for your teeth and gums, you can prevent gum disease.
Whatever stage of gum disease you’re dealing with, professional expertise is always a good idea. Gingivitis and periodontitis should be taken seriously. Before your problem turns into a severe form of periodontal disease and you’re stuck fighting infections, call Cimarron Dental to get started on the path to a healthy smile.