Gum disease, also known as periodontitis or gingivitis, is more prevalent than ever. According to a report by the CDC, 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease and that number tends to increase with age; currently, over 70% of people aged 65 and older suffer from the condition. As with any other type of disease, timely identification and treatment of gum disease are critical to prevent patients from developing progressively worse symptoms.
Gum Disease: Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of gum disease is the buildup of plaque on the enamel of the teeth. The enamel is the thin covering on the surface of the tooth and the hardest tissue in the human body. Plaque refers to thin films of bacteria that form on the tooth or gums when bacteria in the mouth combine with sugar or starch from certain foods. The most common cause of plaque is poor oral hygiene. If plaque remains on the teeth for up to 72 hours, it forms a hard substance called tartar, which can inflame or irritate the gums, resulting in gingivitis. People suffering from gum disease also often experience gum recession, a condition where gum tissue surrounding the teeth pull back from the enamel, forming pockets suitable for bacteria to breed. It may either affect all or a type of teeth (e.g., the molars). Other risk factors for gum disease include diabetes and smoking.
Common symptoms of gum disease include the following:
- Bleeding gums, during or after brushing
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Gum recession
- Pain while chewing or biting
The Progression of Gum Disease
Gum disease progresses over four primary stages: gingivitis, slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease. Proper and timely identification is crucial for administering appropriate treatments. If you think you or a loved one may have gum disease, please visit a periodontist immediately.
As mentioned earlier, gingivitis results from the development of tartar in the oral cavity. Hard to recognize at this stage, gum disease may go unnoticed with the patient failing to consult a dental professional for a diagnosis. Early symptoms include occassional bad breath and inflamed gums. Adopting proper oral hygiene can reverse the first stage of gum disease.
Slight Periodontal Disease
Unlike gingivitis, the second stage of gum disease is irreversible but can be managed with proper oral hygiene and professional care. At this stage, bacteria in the mouth have spread to the bones and the bone-destroying process has begun. Scaling and root planing are two techniques that can help remove bacteria from the gums.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
In stage three, also known as moderate periodontal disease, bacteria has spread from the bones into the immune system and bloodstream. A condition requiring immediate dental intervention, scaling or root planing can be used to perform a deep clean to remove tartar and similar bacteria from the gums and bones.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
In the last stage of periodontal disease, infectious bacteria have proliferated throughout the bones and immune system with a high risk of bone loss. Advanced periodontitis causes infected gums that are malodorous and filled with pus. Patients may also experience painful chewing, constant halitosis, and tooth sensitivity.
Your Favorite Periodontist in Sugar Land, TX!
For timely identification and treatment of gum disease, reach out to a dental professional as soon as possible! Early treatment of gum disease can prevent a host of problems including receding gums, tooth loss, and halitosis. Remember, healthy teeth can last you a lifetime! Dr. Bret Dyer and his team at Fort Bend Periodontics and Implantology are highly trained and experienced in the treatment of gum diseases at any stage. We use state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge dental techniques to provide the best care at affordable costs.
For more information about our services or to book a consultation, please contact us online or call us at: (281) 957-8820.