Gum disease is a fairly common condition in the U.S. In fact, the CDC suggests that nearly half of the adults in the country age 30 and older are dealing with some form of this disease.
There are different levels of severity, but they all need to be treated as soon as possible. Any delay in treatment could lead to many serious dental problems in the future.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease is caused by certain bacteria in your mouth when they combine with the sugars from the foods you eat. This leads to the formation of plaque on your teeth which, if it isn’t removed, will harden into tartar and start to cause other problems.
Eventually, the bacteria can inflame your gums and cause gingivitis – a reddening and swelling of the gums which makes them prone to bleeding. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, and it can be reversed through good dental care and regular visits to the dentist.
If it is not treated, however, it will advance to full periodontal disease. This means the gums can start to pull away from the teeth and form gum pockets, which opens the door to infections. It could even lead to breakdowns in the bone and connective tissues that hold the teeth in place.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
A periodontist is simply a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. We will also provide suggestions for preventing the disease in the first place, and check for symptoms at each of your regular checkups.
Spotting Gum Disease
There are several symptoms that can tell us how far periodontal disease has advanced, including:
- Never-ending bad breath
- Pain when you chew
- A change in your bite
- Receding, swollen, red, and tender gums
- Gums that are prone to bleeding
- Teeth that are getting loose
- Severe sensitivity
This is why regular dental cleanings are so important. It gives us a chance to spot these symptoms before they can develop into gingivitis or periodontitis.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease
There are certain behaviors or situations that may increase your risk for gum disease. The most common risk factors include:
- Medication – Many types of medication can cause dry mouth, which can make your gums more susceptible to infections.
- Smoking – This is one of the most significant risk factors.
- Genetics – Some patients are simply predisposed to susceptibility.
- Hormonal changes – Some life changes can make a person’s gums more sensitive to other changes.
- Diabetes – If you suffer from diabetes, you could be at risk for other types of infections, including gum disease.
What Is the Treatment Like?
The actual treatment will depend on the severity and progression of the disease.
If it is still in the earliest stages, we can use nonsurgical methods to restore the health of your gums. This could include scaling and root planing to remove the tarter from beneath the gum line.
On the other hand, we may recommend some surgical procedures to deal with receding gums or exposed roots. This might mean gum grafts, laser treatments, and osseous surgery (gum pocket reductions) to get the results we want.
What Should You Do About It?
While these treatments can help restore parts of your smile like cosmetic dentistry, treating periodontitis is not an elective procedure that you should put off.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or find yourself any one of the high-risk situations, contact us immediately and set up your next appointment.