Gum disease is a serious condition that can wreak havoc on a person’s mouth, appearance, and general health. It is important to catch and correct gum disease early in order to prevent it from spreading.
At its earliest stages gum disease is nearly undetectable and the only symptom people may experience is bleeding gums during routine tooth brushing. For this reason it is imperative to have regular dental check-ups because dentists are trained to detect gum problems in the earliest stages. Routine dental visits and regular flossing will reduce the chances of developing gum disease.
As it progresses, bacteria gets trapped in pockets below the gum line and progressively destroys the tissue, detaching the gums from the teeth. The deeper the pockets between the teeth and gums, the more severe the disease has become. Food and other particles get trapped in these pockets and bacteria continues to grow and eat away at the gums. Eventually the gums will recede and expose more of the teeth.
At this point periodontal treatment is needed to correct the problem by a procedure called scaling or planing. The periodontist cleans out the pockets and removes the bacteria between the affected teeth. If the disease is advanced enough, gum grafts and bone grafts may also be needed, as bone loss can occur over time. When bone loss happens, the teeth can become loose. The worst cases of gum disease are when the gums have completely receded away and the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. At this point there isn’t much even a periodontist can do to help stop the progression and dentures or implants are the only way to replace teeth.
Gum disease is a serious problem that progressively gets worse over time and cannot be reversed once it has progressed too far, which is why it is imperative to visit a Dentist on a regular basis.
Gum disease has also been tied to other health problems such as heart disease. There are theories that dental plaque enters the bloodstream and attaches to arteries causing fatty build up over time, leading to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Another theory suggests that inflammation caused by gum disease increases plaque build up which causes swelling of the arteries. Either way, it is best to prevent gum disease from ever forming by properly brushing, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.