Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. In simplest terms, gum disease refers to inflamed and infected gum tissue. As oral health affects overall health, the condition and health of the gums are also good indicators of general health in other areas of the body.
Dr. Dale Brant of Ingenious Dentistry notes that “Gum disease is a lot like heart disease, you may not know you have a problem until it is too late. That is why it is so important to see a dentist on a regular basis.”
What Constitutes Gum Disease?
There are many symptoms of gum disease. They include, but are not limited to:
- Receding gums
- Gums that bleed, especially during brushing or flossing
- Abscesses or lesions of the gums that will not heal
- Bad breath
Gingivitis is a bacterial infection that affects the gums. It can have devastating results if left untreated. Dr. Brant says “Eventually, your teeth fall out after a long and painful process.”
However, the bacterial infection can be treated and the effects reversed, if the dentist catches it in its early stages. Many people don’t know they have gum disease until they visit the dentist. The signs can be subtle and may not cause significant pain or discomfort until the infection begins to spread.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is often caused by poor hygiene. It can also be a result of other health problems in the body. People who don’t brush and floss their teeth regularly often end up with some degree of gum disease, simply because debris is left in the mouth after eating and the bacteria it generates is allowed to build up and begin to affect the tissues. Over time, the build-up of bacteria can lead to erosion of the gums and damage to the teeth.
Dr. Brant says, “Gum disease can be found in all age groups, but it is a chronic disease, so we see it a lot in older people. Gum disease also can be hereditary, meaning that if a parent had it, you could also get it.”
Some visible symptoms of periodontal problems may be the appearance of red, swollen or bleeding during brushing and flossing. Teeth may also appear to be larger because the infected periodontal area is receding. However, not all periodontal issues are always detected with the human eye. Therefore it is extremely important to visit a dental professional for regular checkups. These symptoms are typically caused from improper oral hygiene such as lack of brushing and flossing which leads to plaque buildup. This build up is made of bacteria that release toxins causing irritation to the periodontal area, which can eventually lead to gum disease. Left untreated, this problem can lead to serious issues such as bone and tooth loss, and has even been proven to have direct correlation to heart disease and other inflammatory diseases.
What Happens If Gum Disease Isn’t Treated?
If gum disease is not treated, the gums can begin to recede or pull back from the teeth. This can result in the teeth being either lost or damaged. If gingivitis is present, the infection can spread throughout the body causing a systemic infection. This will depress the immune system and allow other illnesses to present themselves. As stated above, oral health affects overall health.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease can lead to destruction of the tissues in the mouth, loss of teeth and damage to the jaw bone. If a person is diagnosed with any type of gum abnormality, including gingivitis or periodontitis, there are several treatment options that are available.
Dr. Brant says, “Gum disease starts with gingivitis, which is the early stage and can be reversed as deep cleanings can easily correct this. Once you lose bone and have inflamed, infected gums, then surgery is the best option.”
LANAP – which stands for laser-assisted new attachment procedure – is an innovative surgical technique to treat gum disease. It is performed using a laser instead of traditional gum surgery which was done with a scalpel and required suturing afterwards.
Dr. Brant prefers LANAP, noting, “It makes a huge difference and it kills the bugs that cause gum disease. It helps regenerate healthy gum tissue and is much less painful than traditional gum surgery.”
At Ingenious Dentistry, we recommend regular visits to our office to ensure that gum disease is diagnosed early and treated quickly. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a visit.