Gum Disease

Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is a type of dental infection that attacks the tissues and bones supporting the teeth. If you do not treat this condition, your teeth will become loose and painful, and the ultimate result will be tooth loss. Seniors are at high risk of developing gum disease, but younger people are also prone to it, as well as teens who can experience less serious problems such as bad breath.

Causes of Gum Disease
Gum disease is usually caused by plaque accumulating in the mouth cavity. Plague is an invisible sticky film of living and dead bacteria, forming on the teeth and gums. You should remove plague regularly; otherwise, it hardens and becomes rock hard within a period of two weeks. Besides plague, there are a number of factors which affect the health of your gums, including: smoking, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and menopause in women, certain medications, stress, diabetes, teeth grinding, poor nutrition and obesity.

Development of Gum Disease
Like most other medical conditions, gum disease occurs in stages. The mildest one is called gingivitis. The warning symptoms of gingivitis include bleeding of the gums when you are brushing or flossing your teeth, gum tenderness, and discoloration. In this case, healthy gums will look pink and firm, but not red and swollen.
The next and more advanced form of gum disease is periodontitis. If dental plague is not removed in time and hardens, it will turn into a substance called tartar (or calculus). Tartar begins to destroy the gum tissue rapidly, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth. A kind of pockets around their base is formed. Bacteria attack these pockets and gradually destroy the gum tissue and jawbone that support the teeth. As a result, the teeth become loose and begin to fall out one after another.

Treatment Options
There is a variety of modern treatment options. Some deep-cleaning measures (scaling and root planning) help remove the plaque and tartar from the teeth, both above and below the gum line. The intake of medications along with scaling and root planning is also recommended depending on the conditionís progression. Certain antibiotics kill the bacteria and stop the infection and inflammation from spreading in the mouth.

Some of the more serious cases of periodontitis may require surgical intervention. This intervention is necessary if the gum tissue is so damaged that cannot be repaired. The most commonly prescribed procedures are sot tissue grafts, crown lengthening, regenerative treatment, and pocket reduction procedures. The dentist has to open and clean the gum pockets, then stitch the gum tissue back into the right place around the teeth.
If the gum tissue is too damaged to stitch back together, your dentist will take healthy gum tissue from another part of the mouth and sew it in place. This treatment is called gingival grafting.

Prevention of Gum Disease
The condition is preventable if you observe the following tips. Clean your teeth regularly. Brush them twice a day for at least 3 minutes and floss after each meal. You may also use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Use a soft to medium toothbrush and replace it every 3 months. Some dentists recommend replacing the toothbrush even more frequently. Stick to a healthy diet and avoid junk foods rich in sugar content. If you smoke, it is best to quit smoking as substances contained in cigarettes irritate the gums. Finally, visit your dentist at least twice a year. This will help diagnose gum inflammations as well as other dental conditions in their early stages.


The information provided in this article does not constitute medical advice and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have a health problem you should consult a licensed physician.

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