Gum disease is painful and embarrassing, but more importantly, it can lead to serious dental complications that aren't reversible. If you have gum disease or are showing the first signs of gum disease, you need to start treatment immediately. Check out these five important facts everyone should know about gum disease.
Gum Disease Is Completely Preventable
About 47.2 percent of adults aged 30 years and older suffer from periodontal disease, and the statistics worsen as people age. 70.1 percent of adults 65 years and older have the disease. These statistics paint the picture that gum disease is a natural part of aging, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Periodontal disease is completely preventable. By taking good care of your mouth, such as brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist twice yearly for annual cleanings and exams, you can prevent the inflammation and infection that leads to gum disease.
It's Caused by Bacteria
Everyone's felt that sticky substance on their teeth when they haven't brushed in a while. That's plaque, and bacteria exists within this plaque. As this bacteria feeds on sugars in your mouth, it creates chemicals, including toxins. Eventually, if you continue to fail to follow good oral hygiene habits, this repeated exposure to the toxins causes your gums to become inflamed, sensitive and swollen, which is gum disease. This is also why brushing, flossing and routine cleanings prevent periodontal disease. Without bacteria, your gums can't get inflamed.
Mild Gum Disease Is Reversible
Mild gum disease is known as gingivitis, and you may not even experience any or many symptoms, but common symptoms include gums that are tender to the touch and bright red in color or that bleed when you brush. At this stage, the disease is reversible. You'll probably need a good cleaning from your dentist, which includes deep cleaning and smoothing under the gum line (scaling and root planing). This deep cleaning is your starting point to reverse the gingivitis, but you must also follow a strict regiment of good oral hygiene habits at home to keep the gum disease at bay. If you fail to treat your gingivitis, it may develop into a more advanced form of periodontal disease known as periodontitis.
Advanced Gum Disease Affects Your Entire Jaw
Periodontitis doesn't just make your gums uncomfortable and sensitive. It affects your entire jaw. As tartar and plaque continue to build, your gums get even more irritated. As if trying to escape the pain, they begin to pull away from your teeth, creating gaps or pockets that are perfect nesting grounds for more plaque and bacteria along your tooth roots. Because your tooth roots aren't protected by enamel, this leads to severe tooth decay and tooth loss. The damage doesn't stop there, however. Even your jawbone is affected. As the disease continues to run rampant, it causes the bone to shrink and deteriorate, making it harder to hold your teeth stable.
There Are Treatments for Advanced Gum Disease
Periodontitis isn't reversible, but it is treatable, so you can keep the symptoms at bay. The first way to reduce the symptoms of periodontitis is scaling and root planing, but for more advanced damage, there are also surgical procedures, namely flap surgery and grafts. Flap surgery is a procedure to help remove the pockets caused by gum disease. If you've lost a large portion of gum tissue due to recession or jawbone tissue due do deterioration, your dentist can perform a tissue graft or bone graft to repair the damage. Antibiotics are also a common treatment to help fight flair ups or prevent them from occurring.
If you have gum disease, it's time to seek treatment. Even if you can't reverse it, there are procedures that can reduce the symptoms so your smile stays beautiful. For more information about gum disease and available treatments, contact a local dental clinic like Apollo Dental Center.