Nearly half of American adults have some form of gum disease. Despite this alarmingly large percentage, many avoid treating the problem. Untreated gum disease can cause gum recession and tooth loss and is linked to diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, you can prevent and treat most gum disease by following good dental habits.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is caused by the buildup of plaque, the bacteria and sugars that stick to your teeth. When plaque isn’t cleaned thoroughly, it can cause your gums to become infected and inflamed. Along with poor diet and insufficient dental care, the risk of gum disease increases with things such as stress and getting older.
The Three Stages of Gum Disease
The most frequent cause of the earliest stage of gum disease is improper dental hygiene. Gingivitis can either have no symptoms or cause your gums to swell, turn red, or bleed when flossing or brushing. It’s important to treat gingivitis before it worsens into more severe symptoms.
Periodontitis occurs when plaque reaches below the gumline and produces toxins that trigger inflammation. The gums can recede, and gaps around the teeth can deepen. You might notice this as gums separating from your bottom or top teeth. Infection may start to damage bone and loosen your teeth.
In Advanced Periodontitis, previous symptoms worsen. Teeth loosen more, bone loss continues, your gums swell, and you may develop temperature sensitivity.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The good news is early-stage gum disease is often reversible by following proper dental hygiene. This change will help prevent plaque buildup and stop early gum disease in its tracks.
Plaque that has hardened into tartar needs professional cleaning to remove, especially when below your gumline. An oral care professional may advise scaling and root planning, also known as SRP. This procedure is basically a deep clean of your teeth to help fight the progression of gum disease.
If your gum disease has been left untreated for some time, it might be necessary for other treatments to remove damaged tissue or help reverse bone loss. In extreme cases, you may require surgical or restorative interventions.
Do I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can cause damage before you notice any symptoms. Until it increases in severity, you might be completely unaware how badly the condition has progressed. Because gum disease is difficult to detect, it’s important to go for regular check-ups with your dentist. ASBA can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy with Dental Plans that provide comprehensive coverage for routine cleanings and check-ups and can even cover periodontal care. Sign up for a plan now.