The progression of gum disease involves the following stages:
- Plaque Formation:
- Plaque forms on teeth when sugars and starches in foods interact with oral bacteria. Regular brushing and flossing can remove plaque, but it quickly re-forms.
- Tartar Formation:
- If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar below the gum line. Tartar is non-removable with regular oral hygiene practices and requires professional intervention for removal.
- Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, characterized by irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue. It is reversible with professional treatment and good oral hygiene.
- Progression to Periodontitis:
- If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to moderate or severe periodontitis, impacting the supporting structures of the teeth.
Recognizing Gum Disease:
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bright red, dusky red, or purplish gums.
- Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing.
- Receding gums.
- Development of gaps between teeth.
- Changes in the way teeth fit together.
If any of these symptoms are present, seeking prompt dental attention is crucial.
Complications of Avoiding Treatment:
Avoiding periodontal treatment can lead to complications, including:
- Tooth Loss:
- Untreated gum disease can result in tooth loss as the infection progresses.
- Systemic Health Issues:
- Bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream, contributing to conditions like respiratory disease, coronary artery disease, blood sugar issues in diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for Gum Disease:
Treatment aims to thoroughly clean teeth and pockets to prevent further damage to surrounding bone. Non-invasive treatments like scaling and root planing may be effective in the early stages. Other treatments include:
- Topical and Oral Antibiotics: To control bacterial infections.
- Flap Surgery: For advanced cases to clean bacteria below the gum line.
- Soft Tissue Grafts, Bone Grafts, and Guided Tissue Regeneration: For more severe cases.
Adopting a good oral care regimen, managing underlying health conditions, and quitting tobacco use enhance the success of periodontal treatment.
If you notice symptoms of gum disease, scheduling an appointment with a periodontal specialist, like Dr. Steven Feldman DDS, is essential. Timely intervention can prevent the progression of the disease, reduce complications, and improve overall oral and systemic health.