Taking good care of your mouth is essential for keeping your smile healthy and beautiful. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once daily. The ADA also recommends twice yearly cleanings and exams. Skipping out on these habits, even only occasionally, can significantly increase your risk for serious oral health issues, including gum disease. If gum disease does develop, OHIOSmiles can help.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an oral health issue that occurs as a result of a bacterial infection. When bacteria and plaque accumulate in your mouth, they cause your gums to become irritated. This irritation triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system, which causes the gums to swell. Without treatment, the condition only becomes worse. Bacteria can travel below your gumline, where they can begin attacking your periodontal ligaments and your jawbone. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and serious health issues.
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
There are many symptoms that come along with gum disease. The exact symptoms you experience will vary depending upon how far along the disease has progressed. Common symptoms include:
- Red, swollen gums. These are the earliest symptoms of gum disease. The bacteria in your mouth irritate the sensitive gum tissue, causing it to become red. An inflammatory response from your immune system causes the tissue to swell. You may also notice bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth.
- Gum recession. As your gums swell, the tissue pulls away from your teeth. This leads to the formation of periodontal pockets. Bacteria fall into these pockets, where they continue attacking your gums from the inside. The pockets grow deeper and deeper, and the infected tissue eventually dies off. As your gums recede, your teeth begin to appear longer than normal. Small spaces between your teeth become visible. You may also notice tooth sensitivity as your roots become exposed.
- Bad breath. Bacteria and food particles that get trapped below your swollen gums cannot easily be cleaned out. These substances contribute to bad breath that will not go away, no matter how often you brush, use mouthwash, or chew gum.
- Loose, wobbly teeth. As bacteria make their way below your gums, they eventually reach your periodontal ligaments and your jawbone. In addition to attacking your gums, the bacteria also attack these supporting structures. As a result, your teeth become loose and may shift out of alignment. This alters your bite, which can result in poor digestion, tooth damage, bruxism, and TMJ disorder.
- Tooth loss. The longer gum disease goes untreated, the weaker the supporting structures become. Eventually, you may be faced with tooth loss. The teeth may fall out on their own, or they may need to be extracted.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
There are many treatments for gum disease. The exact treatment you receive will depend upon your specific situation. Treatments for gum disease include:
- Prophylaxis. This is a regular cleaning of your teeth, which can be effective for treating the earliest stage of gum disease.
- Scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning of your teeth, during which we clean the surfaces above your gumline as well as the root surfaces below the tissue.
- Pocket reduction surgery. This procedure may be performed if your periodontal pockets are too deep to clean with scaling and root planing.
- Osseous surgery. If your jawbone has been affected by bacteria, osseous surgery smooths the bone to help the tissue reattach.
- Soft tissue and bone grafting. Soft tissue grafting helps to treat gum recession. Bone grafting restores missing bone mass, and is often done before replacing teeth with dental implants if too much bone mass has been lost.
If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, even if they do not seem all that serious, it is important to seek treatment right away. Call OHIOSmiles at (740) 439-2501 today for more information and to schedule your consultation.