The gums stand as an integral part of the smile, designed to effectively shield the more delicate parts of the teeth underneath from harmful bacteria and debris. In order to maintain a robust smile, the gums must be given the same attention the teeth are through a proper oral care regimen.
Generally speaking, when the gums fail to be maintained accordingly, it gives space for periodontal (gum) disease to spawn. This serious infection occurs due to bacterial growth initially attacking the soft gum tissue which lines your teeth. Determined to eventually reach the bones below which hold your teeth in position.
To best equip patients with knowledge, let’s go over what periodontal disease entails, its common symptoms, and its treatment method!
Gum disease is an umbrella term frequently utilized within the world of dentistry. Periodontal disease may present itself in many forms depending on the severity, and follows a general four stage development. Patients with periodontal disease will experience different symptoms dependent on which step most accurately identifies with the state of their gums.
It must be prefaced by stating all forms of periodontal disease are serious situations, and should be immediately remedied through the approach of a dental professional before worsening over time.
The earliest and most common form of identifiable gum disease is gingivitis. Named after the gingiva region of the gum, surrounding the base of the teeth, which it specifically targets, this mild form of gum disease typically entails bleeding, irritation, and swelling. Strong and healthy gums are easy to spot from a mile away, firm and pale pink in colour hugging the edges of the teeth. If these areas begin to appear red, puffy, and tender to touch, it could likely be the first stage of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the likely culprit of poor oral hygiene. When plaque and bacteria isn’t removed frequently or effectively enough throughout the day with routine brushing and flossing, it will harden over time into tartar. Once in this state, the bacterium becomes more stubborn to eradicate and cakes the ridges of your gum line, eating away at and infecting the gingiva over time.
To best avoid gingivitis evolving into the more serious and detrimental stages of gum disease, please book an appointment with a dental professional immediately if these symptoms match your smile’s current state.
To treat the initial stage of gum disease, a dental professional performs a deep cleaning alongside a procedure known as scaling and root planning. This effectively removes tartar and bacteria buildup along the gumline.
Slight Periodontal Disease
Slight periodontal disease is what gingivitis will evolve into if left unchecked. This disease is no longer reversible, as it has already begun its bone destroying process, but it is manageable with a professional’s intervention!
Bacteria buildup has now evolved into a more aggressive state, and can no longer be excavated through at home brushing and flossing practices. Likely indicators a patient’s gums lie in this state are increased swelling and redness of the gums, bad breath, a heightened amount of bleeding when brushing and flossing, and probing depths between four and five millimeters (only observable by a professionally trained eye); this measurement indicates the depth of your gum’s pockets which surround your teeth and ideally should range from one to three millimeters.
Slight periodontal disease is treated similar to gingivitis, through scaling and root planning. However, it will likely take multiple attempts, requiring more than one visit to your dentist’s office to ensure your gums properly reattach themselves over time.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
The third stage is similar to slight periodontal disease in nature but its implications are much more severe. As probing depths enlarge to over six millimeters, it allows for even more bacteria to attack not only your teeth’s precious bones, but a patient’s bloodstream and immune system too.
This now constitutes a dental emergency, and carries implications which may spill over into other areas of your body. During this period the teeth may shift as they begin to lose integrity, and a patient will struggle with severe pains, discomfort, bleeding, and swelling throughout their smile. Even more aggressive scaling and root planning is utilized to combat this disease, as well as prescribed antibiotics and medications to help fight off the bacteria now in the bloodstream.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
If this final and unpleasant stage is reached, a patient is faced with a fifty to ninety percent chance of permanent bone loss within the jaw. Additionally, the gums become extremely infected showcasing symptoms beyond the normal bleeding and swelling. Abscesses may form and begin to ooze puss, severe halitosis (bad breath) is to be expected, and substantial gum recession and deterioration resulting in permanent tooth loss only a denture or bridge could replace.
Dental surgery is required to rectify this stage, and usually consists of a professional carefully crafting incisions throughout the gums to lift them back and deeply clean the heavily infected areas beneath. Thanks to the ingenuity of the dental industry, even patients suffering from this most severe version of gum disease could potentially have some function restored to their smile.
However, periodontal disease progression is an extremely dangerous situation, and should be avoided at all costs!
The best line of defense to avoid the development of any gum disease, especially the first stages of gingivitis, are;
- Routine brushing and flossing
- Regular Professional checkups
- A healthy and balanced diet
- Avoiding any and all tobacco products
- Communicating any changes in your body or lifestyle to your dental professionals. As some conditions, and medications can contribute to gum disease, notably pregnancy!
To learn more about preventative steps to avoid gum disease, or if you believe your smile may be suffering with one of the aforementioned stages above, please contact one of our representatives immediately! Its important any form of gum disease is treated as soon as possible to r