March 22, 2023
Can anyone get gum disease? According to a dentist in 37128, gum disease can happen to anyone. It’s a bacterial infection that affects your gum tissues. Millions of people worldwide suffer from gum disease. The CDC reports that 47.2% of adults aged 30 and above have periodontal disease. The numbers seem to increase with age. Periodontal disease affects 70% of adults older than 65 years old. Is there a way to prevent gum disease? How can your dentist help?
Why Is Gum Disease Dangerous and How Can Your Dentist Help Prevent It?
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a condition that causes inflammation and infection in your gums. It is mainly caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar that are not removed by brushing or flossing.
When it reaches the point where plaque calcifies into tartar, your susceptibility to gum disease heightens. The only way to remove hardened tartar is through professional cleaning.
The disease develops gradually. Over time, bacteria in plaque will irritate and inflame your gums, leading to gingivitis.
Gingivitis is characterized by bleeding, painful and swollen gums. Luckily, when caught early, gingivitis is reversible. Professional cleanings and oral care routines can stop its progression and restore gum health. But if left untreated, the disease can progress to periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Several factors may contribute to the development and progression of gum disease. Examples are the following:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss your teeth as recommended, you become susceptible to gum infection because you allow plaque and bacteria to thrive and eventually attack your gum tissues.
- Smoking and Tobacco Use: Studies show that smoking and tobacco use can weaken your immune system and damage your gum tissues, making them more prone to infection and inflammation.
- Genetics: Some individuals may be more likely to develop gum disease due to genetic factors that affect the immune system or the structure of the teeth and gums.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, can increase the risk of gum disease. Medications that reduce saliva production can also increase the risk of gum disease.
- Hormonal Changes: Changes in hormones during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can put women at risk of gum disease.
- Poor Nutrition: An unhealthy diet high in sugar and processed foods can contribute to the development of gum disease by promoting the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Stress: Chronic stress can compromise your immune system and increase the risk of inflammation and infection in the gums.
What Is the Danger of Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when harmful bacteria accumulate on the surface of your teeth and along the gum line resulting in inflammation and damage to the surrounding tissue. Without proper treatment, gum disease can result in a range of serious consequences, including tooth loss and systemic health problems.
- Tooth loss: One of the most severe consequences of gum disease is tooth loss. As the infection progresses, the gums and bones that support the teeth are gradually destroyed, causing the teeth to become loose and ultimately fall out. In advanced stages of gum disease, even teeth that are otherwise healthy may become loose and fall out.
- Gum recession: Gum recession is another common consequence of gum disease. As the gums become inflamed, they start to pull away from the teeth, exposing the sensitive root surfaces. This can cause tooth sensitivity and make the teeth look longer and more exposed.
- Bad breath: A common symptom of gum disease is bad breath or halitosis. The bacteria that cause gum disease produce volatile sulfur compounds, which can cause a foul odor in the mouth. In addition, the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth can also cause your breath to smell.
- Tooth sensitivity: Gum disease can cause tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures. As the gums recede, the sensitive root surfaces of the teeth become exposed, making the teeth more sensitive to changes in temperature and pressure.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is a key feature of gum disease. The body's immune system responds to the bacteria in the gums, causing inflammation and swelling. Over time, this chronic inflammation can lead to tissue damage and the loss of bone and other supporting structures.
- Increased risk of systemic health problems: Gum disease has been linked to various systemic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory infections. The mechanisms by which gum disease contributes to these conditions are not yet fully understood, but it is believed that the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease may play a role.
- Compromised oral function: As gum disease progresses, it can compromise the function of the teeth and jaws. The teeth may become loose or misaligned, making it difficult to chew and speak properly. In severe cases, the jawbone may be affected, leading to difficulties with biting and chewing.
How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
Gum disease can be diagnosed through a combination of an oral examination, periodontal charting, X-rays, medical history, comprehensive exam, and diagnostic tests. Understanding how gum disease is diagnosed can help individuals recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition and seek professional dental care as soon as possible.
- Oral Examination: The first step in diagnosing gum disease is a thorough oral examination by a dental professional. The dentist or hygienist will examine the teeth and gums, looking for signs of inflammation, bleeding, and swelling. They may also use a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the pockets between the teeth and gums. These pockets can become deeper as gum disease progresses, indicating more severe disease.
- Periodontal Charting: During the oral examination, the dentist or hygienist may also perform periodontal charting, which involves recording measurements of the depth of the pockets around each tooth. This information is used to determine the disease's extent and track changes over time.
- X-Rays: X-rays may also be used to help diagnose gum disease. These images can show the extent of bone loss and other structural changes that can result from gum disease. X-rays can also help identify any underlying dental problems that may contribute to gum disease development.
- Medical History: The dental professional may also take a thorough medical history, looking for any conditions or medications contributing to gum disease development. People who have diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. Meanwhile, certain medications can cause dry mouth or other oral health problems.
- Comprehensive Exam: A comprehensive exam may be conducted, which involves evaluating the patient's oral health. This can help to identify any underlying dental problems or issues that may be contributing to the development of gum disease.
- Diagnostic Tests: In some cases, additional diagnostic tests may be necessary to confirm a gum disease diagnosis. These tests may include bacterial cultures, DNA testing, or blood tests to measure inflammation and other disease markers.
How Do You Treat Gum Disease?
- Scaling and Root Planing: Scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleaning, is one of the most common treatments for gum disease. It’s a conservative treatment that involves removing accumulated tartar from the teeth and roots below the gumline using specialized tools. This process can help to eliminate the bacteria and toxins that cause inflammation and promote the healing of the gums.
- Antibiotics: In some cases, dentists may prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease. Antibiotics may be given as a mouthwash, pill, or gel and are often given in conjunction with other treatments like scaling and root planing.
- Gum Surgery: In the advanced stages of gum disease, your dentist may suggest surgery to remove damaged tissue and promote healthy tissue regeneration. There are several types of gum surgery, including flap surgery, bone grafts, and soft tissue grafts. These procedures can help restore the gums' health and function and prevent further damage to the teeth and supporting structures.
- Laser Therapy: Although laser therapy is a relatively new treatment for gum disease, the treatment is widely used in dental offices since it's less invasive compared to traditional gum surgery. It's also more comfortable. It involves using a special laser to remove infected tissue and promote healing.
- Dental Implants: Dental implants may be recommended as a replacement option if tooth loss has occurred due to gum disease. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots placed into the jawbone and can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture. Implants can help restore the smile's function and appearance and prevent further bone loss and gum recession.
- Maintenance and Prevention: Once gum disease has been treated, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits to prevent it from returning. This includes regular brushing, flossing, regular check-ups, and cleanings with a dental professional. Furthermore, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and improving diet and exercise habits can also help to prevent gum disease.
See a Dentist 37128 for a Checkup and Cleaning
Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can lead to tooth loss and other health issues. Preventing and managing gum disease requires good oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and lifestyle changes. Early detection and treatment are key to maintaining healthy gums and a beautiful smile.
If you work with your dentist to maintain good oral health, you can lower your risk of gum disease and keep your smile healthy for many years. At Stonetrace Dental, we strive to provide you with the best dental care. Our office is fully equipped with the latest technology to give you a comfortable and relaxing experience. Contact us for a consultation.