Brushing, flossing, and regular trips to the dentist will indeed make your teeth more attractive. More importantly they will protect you from nasty complications such as gum disease. Gum disease or periodontitis can be painful and expensive to treat.
What puts me at risk?
Smoking can put your oral health at risk of periodontitis.
- 55% of patients with periodontitis are current smokers (for comparison, only 18% of the US population are current smokers).
- 22% of patients with periodontitis are former smokers.
- People who smoke a pack or more a day are 6 times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers.
Age is another factor. Unfortunately, unlike smoking, this isn’t something you can control. The older you get, the greater your risk is of developing gum disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 70% of people 65 years or older have suffered from gum disease.
Certain medications, including some oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and heart medicines have possible side effects of increasing your risk for gum disease. Look out for medications that carry the side effect of making you produce less saliva. Your pharmacist will inform you if gum disease is indeed a risk because of your medication.
Hormone changes, especially in young women, are also a significant risk factor associated with gum disease.
What are the symptoms?
- Gums swollen and more red than pink.
- Tender or bleeding gums.
- Sensitivity while chewing.
- Receding gums. If it looks like your teeth are getting bigger, know that it is actually your gums getting smaller.
- Loose or separating teeth.
- Frequent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
What Are the Different Types of Gum Disease?
Although gingivitis is known as gum disease, it’s more a simple inflammation of the gums than an actual disease. When you allow plaque to just sit on your teeth, in about 10 days it hardens into dental calculus (better known as tartar), which contributes to gum disease This tartar produces bacteria that results in red, swelling, and possibly even bleeding gums.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis (true gum disease). Plaque spreads below the gum line and starts to damage the bone and tissue that support the teeth. Severe inflammation will make the gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that are easily infected. Sometimes teeth have to be removed after they become loose from the effects of periodontitis.
How Do Dentists Treat Gum Disease?
Deep cleaning gets rid of tartar using techniques called scaling and root planning. Scaling (named after the sharp little tool used in this practice) involves scraping away tartar above and below the gum line. Root planning goes even deeper, clearing away the tartar in the root of the tooth.
Medicine is often used in combination with deep cleaning to improve its effectiveness. These medications range from prescription-strength mouthwashes to general antibacterial tablets, such as doxycycline, to antiseptic gels that are applied directly after deep cleaning treatments.
In cases where gum disease is so severe that deep cleaning and medicine are not enough, surgery is required to cure gum disease.
Flap surgery involves cutting the gums to allow the dentist to pull them back further and scrape away more tartar than he would have been able to do with just deep cleaning. After the surgical team clears away the tartar deposits, they suture back the gums to fit snugly around the tooth.
It may be necessary to perform more surgery in addition to flap surgery. A bone or tissue graft is required if there is significant bone loss. This surgery may involve placing synthetic bone in place of lost bone, grafting soft tissue to the gums to cover up exposed tooth roots, or installing mesh between bone and gum.
Can Gum Disease Affect More than Just My Mouth?
While there is no definite proven causation between gum disease and other, more serious complications, there have been a number of studies that link gum disease with an increased risk of heart and kidney disease and also diabetes. An infection that starts in the gums is thought by many dentists and other physicians to be able to travel down the body and affect your vital organs.
Deldar Dental offers gum disease treatments in Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis, Lapel, Westfield, and surrounding areas. Make an appointment to see if your gums are healthy and if we need to treat gum disease immediately.