Gum disease is common, and it shouldn't be ignored. Even if you are only showing the first signs of gum disease, you need to start treating it immediately. If you have gum disease, check out these six must-know facts to help you keep your mouth healthy.
Gum Disease Isn't a Normal Part of Aging
Many older people develop some form of gum disease, but it's important to know that it isn't a normal part of aging. Just because a person gets older, doesn't mean they will naturally develop gum disease. It is completely preventable. Gum disease is simply severe irritation of the gums, and this irritation occurs when people forget to follow good oral hygiene habits. By flossing, brushing and getting professional dental cleanings on a regular basis, you can prevent gum disease.
Gingivitis Is Reversible
Gum disease starts off as gingivitis, which is just a mild form of the disease. At this stage, it is completely reversible through good oral hygiene habits. In some cases, however, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress into a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Untreated gingivitis doesn't always turn into periodontitis, but if it does, it is no longer reversible. Periodontitis is something you'll have to manage the rest of your life.
Gum Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
If your gum disease progresses into periodontitis, it increases the chance of tooth loss. As your gums become irritated and inflamed, they pull away from the teeth, creating little hiding spots or pockets for plaque and bacteria. As infection develops, your body's natural immune system kicks in to try and stop it. Unfortunately, this battle creates toxins that destroy healthy tissue. The toxins do two things. First, they attack the connective tissue that holds your teeth, loosening them. Second, they attack the jawbone, causing it to become soft and unable to hold your teeth in place.
A Deep Professional Cleaning Can Help
Whether you have gingivitis or periodontitis, a deep professional cleaning can help. It can help reverse gingivitis, or it can treat the symptoms of periodontitis. A deep cleaning doesn't just involve cleaning the exposed surfaces of your teeth. A deep cleaning involves scaling and root planing. During the scaling process, the dentist cleans below your gum line to remove debris from those hiding spots created when your gums recede. The dentist then performs planing to smooth the rough areas on your teeth, which can help prevent future debris from getting stuck.
There Are Antibacterial Medications
If you have periodontitis, your dentist may also prescribe oral antibacterial medications if the inflammation becomes too painful. These antibacterial medications destroy the bacteria that creates the toxins that causes tissue to breakdown. In some cases, your dentist may even prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash that you use on a regular basis in place of standard mouthwash. After scaling and root planing, the dentist may also place antibiotic gel inside the pockets to kill any remaining bacteria.
Surgical Treatments Are Also Available
If gum recession becomes too severe, your dentist can perform a surgical treatment known as flap surgery. During the procedure, the dentist cuts your gums and pulls them away from your tooth roots to perform a good cleaning. The gums are then repositioned flush against your teeth, eliminating the pockets. If you've lost tissue, such as gum or bone, the dentist can also perform tissue grafts to help regenerate gum or jawbone.
Gum disease is completely preventable, and gingivitis is reversible. If your gum disease advances to periodontitis, it's important to continue following good oral hygiene habits and getting treatment from your dentist to prevent serious symptoms, such as tooth loss. If you have gum disease, contact a dentist in your area today to start seeking treatment.