Gum disease is a term describing infection of the tissues which surround a tooth. There are two types of gum disease:, an infection and inflammation of the gums around the neck of a tooth, and periodontitis, an infection of the ligament and bone surrounding the root of a tooth.
What causes gum disease?
Gingivitis occurs when plaque is allowed to build up around a tooth and create a sticky layer which causes gum infection. If you look in your mouth, you will see redness, swelling and bleeding of the gum around your tooth.
Periodontitis occurs in susceptible patients when a long-term gum infection is not treated. Infection and resultant inflammation lead to the loss of ligaments and bone around the root of your tooth.
Mild Periodontal Disease
Moderate Periodontal Disease
Severe Periodontal Disease
Factors which significantly increase the risk of developing periodontitis include:
- Medications (certain anti-seizure, blood pressure, and immunosuppressant medications)
- Poor oral hygiene
What can I do to minimize my risk of gum disease?
To minimize your risk of future gum disease, you must be mindful of the risk factors stated above. Gingivitis is usually well managed by adopting excellent oral hygiene practices. Periodontitis is more difficult to manage.
Protocols recommended by our dentist may include:
Non-surgical Gum Disease Treatment
- Root cleaning (scaling and root planning) at the appropriate intervals to manage your risk for bone loss
- Antibacterial mouth rinses
- Oral antibiotics
- Customized home care instruction
- Smoking cessation counseling
Surgical Gum Disease Treatment
- Recontouring of gum and bone around affected teeth to allow better access for professional root cleaning and daily home care
How can an existing bite affect gum disease?
Bite problems on periodontally-affected teeth can lead to accelerated gum disease and loosening of the teeth.
If signs of a bite problem are present, the following may be considered to balance your bite and relieve excess pressure on periodontally involved teeth:
- Bite therapies, including deprogramming and equilibration
- Orthodontic repositioning of the teeth
- Replacement of worn or damaged teeth
- Replacement of worn or damaged fillings
- Replacement of missing teeth
- Use of a custom-fitted bite guard to protect from grinding or clenching forces
What will happen if I choose to do nothing about my periodontal disease?
As uncontrolled periodontitis is progressive in nature, it will lead to increased bone loss and eventual tooth loss, ultimately affecting your ability to eat and speak. There are also connections between gum disease and other chronic diseases of the body such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In pregnant women, gum disease is strongly linked to preterm, low birth weight.