Gum disease, basically an infection of the gums around your teeth, is caused by excessive plaque buildup. The plaque will only increase if not removed by brushing, flossing, and dental checkups, and if it isn’t removed, it will release toxins that will damage your gums. Over time, this forms small pockets in your gums, separating them from your teeth. Gum disease is among the top causes of tooth loss for adults. It also is almost entirely painless, so many people don’t even realize they have a problem until it’s spotted during a regular checkup.
Gum disease has two phases. The first is gingivitis, which makes the gums red and swollen, causing them to bleed easily. Gingivitis is treatable, and even just brushing and flossing daily can get rid of it. The second phase, periodontitis, is much more serious. During periodontitis, the gums and bone supporting the teeth are irreversibly damaged. This can cause teeth to fall out or become loose.
To lower your risk of periodontal disease, avoid chewing tobacco, smoking, medications (like steroids, oral contraceptives, calcium channel blockers, anti-epilepsy drugs, unless absolutely necessary to your health), and leaving old filling and ill-fitting bridges in your mouth.
Other factors that can lead to gum disease are:
- Crooked teeth
Possible symptoms of gum disease include:
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when biting
- Constant bad breath
- Constant bad taste in the mouth
- Easily bleeding gums
- Gums that have pulled back from your teeth
- Permanent teeth becoming loose
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Red, swollen gums; often, your gums will be tender as well
If you have any of these symptoms, make sure to visit your dentist and let him or her know as soon as possible. Using various tools to examine your mouth more closely, we’ll be able to determine whether you suffer from gum disease or not.
Gum disease can be treated in several different ways, depending on your specific case and how severe it is. Often, treatments will be non-surgical, involving things like periodontal trays and deep cleaning. Other options, such as laser gum surgery and periodontal surgery, are helpful in more severe cases. If your gum disease results in tooth loss, then dental implants can replace those teeth.