What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth.
It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.
Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:
gums that bleed easily
red, swollen, tender gums
gums that have pulled away from the teeth
persistent bad breath or bad taste
permanent teeth that are loose or separating
any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
any change in the fit of partial dentures
Using the illustration above, stage #1 represents a healthy tooth and gums which are achieved by brushing and flossing 2x's a times a day, and seeing your dentist 2x's a year for a professional dental cleaning.
Represents the early stages of Gingivitis which is the mildest form of periodontal disease, and in most camay not have any warning signs. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Shows untreated gingivitis that can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
Stage #4: Identifies advanced periodontitis, there are many forms of periodontitis. The most common ones include the following:
Aggressive periodontitis occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy. Common features include rapid attachment loss and bone destruction and familial aggregation.
Chronic periodontitis results in inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth, progressive attachment and bone loss. This is the most frequently occurring form of periodontitis and is characterized by pocket formation and/or recession of the gingiva. It is prevalent in adults, but can occur at any age. Progression of attachment loss usually occurs slowly, but periods of rapid progression can occur.
Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases often begins at a young age. Systemic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are associated with this form of periodontitis.
Necrotizing periodontal disease is an infection characterized by necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.
Now that we Understand what causes Gum Disease, we can Prevent It!
Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Remember: You don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. Brush and floss your teeth 2x's a day, eat a balanced diet, and schedule your professional dental cleanings 2x's a year for a lifetime of healthy smiles.