Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease, pyorrhea, or periodontitis – begins with oral bacterial growth. If it’s not properly treated, you might end up losing your teeth or at least loosen up due to the destruction of the tissues that surround your teeth, also known as the periodontal ligament. Prevention is your best bet when it comes to treatment of gum diseases ranging from gingivitis to periodontitis.
With that in mind, what are the different gum diseases and how should you go about treating them?
What’s The Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is gum inflammation. It’s the first stage of periodontal or gum disease. Or rather, it can graduate to full periodontitis if it’s not treated ASAP. Not all gingivitis cases will progress to periodontitis though. In the early stages of gum inflammation, there’s typically a buildup of plaque, which causes the gums to swell and easily bleed whenever you brush your teeth.
As your periodontitis progresses, your teeth will end up no longer anchored in your mouth and jaw, with them loosening up and eventually falling off like milk teeth. In fact, gum and periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loose.
- Signs of Gingivitis: Gingivitis happens because of uncleaned plaque buildup and can cause bleeding gums to happen as the primary symptom. The major difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that the teeth are still firmly planted in their teeth sockets even though there’s definitely gum irritation going on.
- Signs of Periodontitis: The signs of periodontitis include loose teeth and a receding gumline. The teeth have become loose because the periodontal ligaments connecting the teeth to their sockets have started to die out. In contrast, with gingivitis, no irreversible bone or tissue damage has come about yet. Everything remains treatable with regular brushing.
- The Dangers of Untreated Gingivitis: When gingivitis remains untreated for a prolonged period of time, it can advance towards the more serious gum disease of periodontitis. Periodontitis involves the bone and inner layer of the gum pulling away from the teeth, forming pockets. These small spaces between gums and teeth collect debris and can end up infected when push comes to shove.
- The Dangers of Untreated Periodontitis: In turn, if you allow periodontitis to remain untreated for a long time, this can lead to a weakened immune system as it fights the bacteria in your mouth. Meanwhile, the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line, leading to tooth loss down the line. This is why deep cleaning and root planing is so important when symptoms of periodontitis finally become apparent.
- The Toxicity of Periodontitis Bacteria: When you’re suffering from periodontitis, your plaque bacteria (along with the good enzymes involved in fighting off infections) tend to produce toxins and acids that break down the connective tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. As the dental condition worsens, the pockets between gum and teeth enlarge and deepen, which destroys more bone and gum tissue.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease?
The problem with gingivitis or the initial phases of gum disease is that it progresses painlessly. Patients only react and go to the dentist when they start feeling pain or loose teeth, which is usually too late or too expensive to treat. Even in the late phases of gum disease, there aren’t many obvious signs for it.
In the initial stages of periodontal disease, there are no major symptoms except perhaps gingivitis and bleeding gums. However, if you have bad hygiene habits or neglect to clean your teeth then you’re already at risk for gum disease. Regardless, the condition doesn’t come without warning signs even though they’re usually subtle.
The symptoms of gum disease that you should pay attention to typically includes the following:
- Receding gums
- Pained chewing
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are puffy or swollen
- Halitosis or persistent bad breath
- Gum inflammation that’s recurrent
- Pus in between your gums and teeth
- Gums that are colored purplish or dusky red
- New spaces or gaps appearing between teeth
- Gums that are sensitive or tender to the touch
- Teeth that look longer due to gum recession
- Teeth that have become loose or have shifted
- Deep spaces or pockets between the teeth and gums
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- A change in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
- Bleeding gums when you bite into hard fruits like apples or pears
Even if you don’t notice symptoms you might still suffer from some level of gum disease. Err on the side of caution and visit your dentist today or soon for an appraisal or regular checkup. You never know. Some people only have gum disease in certain teeth like the molars. Only a periodontist can recognize and figure out if there’s gum disease in a portion or the whole length of your gums.
When undergoing a dental exam, your dentist will typically check for the following:
- Gum swelling
- Gum bleeding
- Gum firmness
- Teeth sensitivity
- Teeth alignment
- Teeth movement
- Periodontal pocket depth
- The state of your jawbone
The larger the pocket between tooth and gum the worse the disease has progressed. Your dentist will also check if there’s breakdown of the bone that surrounds your teeth. If symptoms persist, consult your dental healthcare provider.
The more you ignore the problem the more it will progress and worsen to the point where you have no choice but to lose your teeth and get an implant, crown, or false teeth.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum diseases—from gingivitis to periodontitis—are caused by plaque, the creamy film on your teeth enamel that you can scratch off with your fingernail. You can get rid of plaque by brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash regularly. However, there are also other contributing factors towards gum disease development. These include the following:
- Bad Habits or Vices: Smoking can make it harder for gum tissue to regenerate.
- Family History: If you have a family history of periodontitis or gingivitis, you might have a higher risk for the disease genetically.
- Poor Oral Hygiene: If you neglect to brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day or gargle with mouthwash at least daily, then that could lead to plaque and gum disease development.
- Changes with Your Hormones: When you have hormonal changes during monthly menstruation, menopause, puberty, and pregnancy, then this will make your gums more sensitive and susceptible to gum inflammation and disease.
- Medications: Your oral health can be impacted by the medicine you take. They can have side effects that affect gum sensitivity to infection. Some might give you cotton mouth or dry mouth, which decreases the amount of saliva that protects your gums and teeth. There are also drugs like anticonvulsant and anti-angina medication that cause abnormal gum tissue growth, which in turn increases your risk of gum disease development.
- Illness: Other disease or illnesses can include gingivitis as a symptom or complication. For example, if you have HIV or cancer as well as any disease that interferes with your immune system health, then that could manifest as gum inflammation or infection. Diabetes also affects your body’s blood sugar usage ability. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing infections, which includes gum disease and tooth decay.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Gum disease treatment is all about promoting healing and reattachment of the gums and connective tissue to teeth. You can do preventative care or direct treatment that reduces the swelling, pocket depth, and infection risk of your gingiva and periodontal ligaments. The progression of the disease must be stopped in every way possible. Your treatment options for gum disease depend on the phase or stage of the disease and how your body has responded to previous treatments.
Your choices range from non-surgical therapy to control bacterial spread to surgery and supportive tissue regeneration. You’re mostly required to brush and floss everyday and then gargle with mouthwash to keep bacterial populations low.
- Brushing: Brush your teeth twice daily or thrice a day to avoid gum disease progression. Learn to brush properly. Brush with circular motions and don’t scrape the toothbrush too hard on your teeth enamel. Be thorough with your cleanup but be gentle while you’re doing it. Don’t shoddily and roughly brush your teeth. Brush for at least 2-3 minutes. Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months or use an electric toothbrush.
- Flossing: Not to be confused with the dance, many people are unaware of how to properly floss. Don’t just slip the floss between teeth gaps and pull off the same bit of floss in a few seconds. You’re just spreading the plaque that way. Instead, use a long piece of floss and give every individual tooth a piece of floss. Scrape not only the stuck food but also the plaque on every tooth surface. Make sure to move the floss so that every tooth gets an unused piece of floss to clean it up.
- Mouthwash: Gargle with antiseptic mouthwash that gets rid of 99.9 percent of germs. Gargle the liquid for at least 30 seconds before spitting it out. Don’t swallow the liquid. Use the mouthwash after you’re done brushing your teeth and flossing them as well. Mouthwash is beneficial because it kills bacteria that causes= gingivitis and tooth decay as well as periodontal disease. It can even help heal infected, swollen gums.
- Deep Cleaning: Patients with advanced periodontitis that have deep periodontal pockets require deep cleaning. Regenerating all that gum tissue and periodontal ligament requires cleanup and removal of bacteria first as well as all the diseased tissue in order to allow the healing to commence. Every last infected ligament, bone, and gum tissue should be removed to allow new tissue to form in their place. It involves the following treatments:
- Scaling: Scaling is a dental service that involves removing plaque and tartar on your enamel, teeth, gums, and periodontal pockets. This yellowish and brownish material is the source of all your gingival and periodontal problems. The dentist uses debridement tools in order to clean up areas beyond the reach of prophylaxis treatments, tooth brushing, or flossing.
- Root Planing: Root planing involves using a laser or drill in order to smoothen out the infected tooth root of all its diseased portions. Bacteria usually accumulate at the root of the tooth as well as the periodontal pockets caused by your receding gumline. You should remove the diseased tissue to stop the bacterial growth and help start dental regeneration.
- Aftercare: Your dentist will then prescribe an over-the-counter painkiller and antibiotic to you after the scaling and root planing operation is finished. It’s all for the sake of treating your infection and reducing your gum inflammation back to manageable gingivitis levels. You might also be recommended follow-up visits to determine if you need further deep cleaning or if the progress of your gum healing is coming along nicely.
- Homemade Remedies: There are also homemade remedies available to stave off the development of gum disease. For instance, you can chew an onion since it has antibacterial properties. You can also use that onion to treat the bleeding gums symptom of your gum disease for good measure. You should consume guava and lemon as well since it has Vitamin C that helps treat your gum issues. Lemon also prevents gum inflammation too.
Gum disease usually begins as gingivitis and gums that easily bleed every time you brush your teeth and then worsen to the point of your gums receding and your teeth begin wiggling when you touch them in your mouth. Once your periodontal disease has advanced enough periodontitis has advanced enough then it’s time for you to get treatments such as deep cleaning and root planing.
Untreated gum disease can cause quite a number on your periodontal tissue and jawbone. It can even worsen to the point where your teeth will outright fall off, just like a child’s milk teeth. In such cases, you might end up having no choice but to put in dental restorations like dental implants, crowns, or bridges, all with varying degrees of expensiveness. Your immune system can also undergo strain while dealing with periodontitis-induced infection or inflammation, which can lead to further complications if left untreated.
Thantakit International Dental Center is Thailand’s longest established dental center. Situated in Bangkok, our clinic is renowned across the world as a destination for world-class dentistry, with most of our patients flying to us from Australia.
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