Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums and tissues that support your teeth. It is caused most often by the build-up of plaque and tartar when teeth are not routinely brushed and flossed.
There are two major stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis affects only the gums. It is a mild form of gum disease, and if properly treated, may be reversed. Left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. During this more destructive disease stage, bacteria penetrate into the deeper pockets of tissue where bone and membrane support your teeth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and serious health problems.
Research shows that 47.2 percent of American adults over the age of 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease, which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. It is also possible to have gum disease without experiencing any symptoms. The best way to avoid or manage gum disease is by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly.
What are some risk factors?
You may be at risk for gum disease if any of the following apply to you:
In addition, the following types of prescription drugs may also increase the risk of gum disease. Talk with your dentist if you are taking:
What is a periodontist?
Periodontists are qualified dentists who have an additional three years of education and specialized training in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. They also perform dental implant surgery and cosmetic periodontal procedures. Your periodontist will work closely with your dentist to manage your oral health.
What are some warning signs?
Gum disease is considered a \"silent\" disease because pain does not always accompany warning signs. See your dentist if you experience:
Changes to your Teeth, Bite or Dental Work
Changes to Your Gums
Bad Breath or Odd Taste in Your Mouth
Sores in Your Mouth
How do we treat gum disease?
How your periodontist treats your gum disease is largely dependent upon the stage of your infection and the amount of deterioration involving your gums, teeth, supporting tissues and bone.
After reviewing your Digital X-rays and performing a thorough periodontal exam, your periodontist will discuss your treatment options, answer questions, and explain what happens:
The most well-known type of non-surgical treatment is known as scaling and root planing. This under-the-gum procedure involves a careful removal of plaque and tarter from the tooth roots. During this procedure, your hygienist will remove harmful bacteria and irritants from deep beneath your gums to prevent plaque from accumulating again.
Your periodontist may perform periodontal surgery to eliminate bone infections or to regenerate lost bone.