You’ve probably heard of gum disease and you may even be one of the millions of Americans affected by it, but do you know what it really is and how it develops? If not, you’re certainly not the only one—that’s why our general dentist is passionate about teaching her patients. It is difficult to fight against what you don’t know.
In this blog, Dr. Abbey J. Lee explains how gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) develops, the stages of development, what causes it, and how to prevent it.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding bone that often leads to tooth loss. In most cases, people develop gum disease because of plaque build-up on their teeth. This occurs when the teeth aren’t cleaned properly and plaque near the gumline turns into tartar. This leads to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria begin to attack the person’s gums, causing pockets of bacteria to develop which leads to irritation and bleeding.
There are three phases of periodontal disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Continue reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of each stage.
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. It is mostly known for causing the gums to bleed while brushing and flossing, though that is not the only symptom. People should also be aware of the following symptoms:
In some cases, a person can have gingivitis and experience none of these symptoms. That’s why visiting the dentist every six months is so important! Another benefit is that at this stage, periodontal disease is reversible. Beyond this point, the disease can only be suppressed.
This stage, though not reversible, can be managed. At this point, the infection has spread to the bones surrounding the gums and leads to bone loss. Patients will continue to experience bleeding, irritation, and redness of the gums along with pain, sensitivity, and shifting teeth.
If the infection is left untreated, it progresses to the final stage—advanced periodontitis. During this stage, the bad bacteria become even more aggressive and continue to attack the soft and hard tissues of the mouth.
A person can expect to experience more severe symptoms than in the proceeding stages. Additionally, people with this stage of gum disease may have pus oozing from their gums.
As stated earlier, periodontal disease is most often caused by plaque build-up because of poor oral hygiene habits. However, this isn’t the only cause. Non-plaque induced gingival disease can be caused by the following factors:
Unfortunately, not all of these things are in our control, but in most cases, good oral hygiene can prevent the development of gum disease.
Here are the best ways to maintain good oral health and stop gum disease from developing or progressing:
If you suspect gum disease is the cause of your oral health problems, or if you just haven’t been to the dentist in more than six months, it’s time to make an appointment.
Our Grant Park Dentist, Dr. Lee, is prepared to help patients overcome gum disease and maintain good oral health through modern, safe, and effective dental treatments. Call us today at 404-328-7177 to schedule your initial consultation.