Studies show that 47 percent of adults aged over 30 years have gum disease.
To most people, swollen or bleeding gums do not seem like a big deal. However, these are often symptoms of gum or periodontal disease. If ignored for long, gum disease can cause serious health challenges.
Gum disease symptoms can range from slight information to complicated oral infections that are difficult to treat, tooth loss, or mouth sores.The disease’s leading cause is poor dental health, but studies show that individuals with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it.
More specific causes include inadequate brushing and flossing, poor diet, smoking, and certain medications such as steroids and contraceptives. Symptoms may range from soft, bleeding gums to bad breath, loosening teeth and ulcers.
Contrary to the belief of many people, gum disease does not only affect the gums. When the condition is left untreated, it also affects the teeth and jawbone. The symptoms become more severe as the disease progresses.
Let us look at some of the typical stages of gum disease.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is derived from two words – gingival and itis. Gingival means gums while itis means inflammation. The first stage of gum disease is characterized by inflammation.
This is an early stage where bacteria begin to gradually build up on the gums, irritating them. In this stage, the teeth and jawbone have not been infected. The gums become sore and inflamed. They also bleed easily when touched or brushed.
The main symptoms of this stage are bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, receding gums, and visible tartar on the gum. When left untreated, gingivitis becomes worse, and the tissue around the teeth starts to pull off. Some spaces may develop between the teeth, although this can be reversed if treated early.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
This stage results from untreated gingivitis. At this stage, the plaque turns into complex tartar that you cannot get rid of by brushing. Periodontitis is, therefore a severe form of gum disease that needs more specialized treatment.
This stage is characterized by more tender, inflamed, and bleeding gums. The plaque is no longer found on top but below the gum line. Dental tissues pull away from the teeth more, resulting in periodontal pockets. The bones start to get damaged and the teeth begin loosening.
Although this stage is difficult to treat, it can be successfully reversed if handled early enough.
Stage 3: Advanced or Chronic Periodontitis
This is a severe stage that comes with complicated symptoms that are impossible to treat. The gums and teeth have already been destroyed by the bacteria, and teeth may start to fall off.
The periodontal pockets may be filled with pus, and swelling around the root results in more bone loss. Advanced periodontitis also comes with increased bacterial activity, resulting in more significant bone loss.
Patients suffering from this type of gum disease may find it difficult to bite and chew food.
Prevention and Treatment
Gum disease does not only affect your oral health; it may cause various other conditions such as diabetes, stroke, lung infections, arthritis, and cancer. Preventing the disease is better than treating it.
Always assess your gums for any swelling, puffiness or reddening. If this happens, be sure to consult your “dentist near me”. If your gums bleed when you touch or brush, you might also need to get your dentist to rule out the possibility of gum disease.
To avoid the disease, ensure that you brush and floss as regular as you can. Use the right mouthwash to rinse your mouth and do not skip your regular dental checkups.
Treatment options for gum disease depend on the level of complications experienced by the patient. Some of the common options include scaling, filling, capping, rootplanning, and medication.
Scaling is used during the initial stages to eliminate tartar and plaque from the gums. The procedure lasts only a few minutes, but may be a bit uncomfortable if the plaque build-up is more severe.
Filing is used to fix broken or chipped teeth while planing is for eliminating rough spots from the root of your teeth. Your dental specialist’s responsibility is to choose the right treatment option for you, depending on how severe your condition is.
All in all, gum disease is a common disorder that needs early diagnosis and treatment. Not preventing or treating the disease in good time can result in adverse effects, including tooth loss. Therefore, the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to handle it. Regular examination by your “dentist near me” is key in diagnosing and treating gum disease.