What is gum disease? That is a simple question and one many individuals ask when it comes up in conversation, especially if that conversation is occurring while at the dentist’s office. Gum disease is actually an inflammation of the gums. The inflammation can progress into something more serious like an infection of the bone that surrounds and supports the teeth in your mouth. The inflammation is caused by the bacteria in your mouth that can be found in the plaque in your mouth. Plaque is that sticky, clear, colorless film that covers your teeth if you don’t brush them enough. Flossing can also remove plaque. When plaque builds up the bacteria can infect the gums and the teeth. When gum disease occurs and treatment is not started soon enough the teeth can become loose, fall out or the dentist if unable to save the teeth have to pull them out.
What are the three stages of gum disease?
There are three stages to gum disease that you should know about. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This is the earliest stage of gum disease and is when the gums are inflamed. When plaque builds up against the gum it produces toxins or poisons that irritate the tissues of the gum, causing the gingivitis. When you have gingivitis, the first symptom you notice may be bleeding gums when you brush your teeth or floss. If gum disease is caught and treated in this early stage of gingivitis, the disease can be reversed and damage is minimized because the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected by gum disease.
Periodontitis is the middle stage of gum disease. When the gum disease has advanced to the point where supporting bone and connective tissues are damaged. Pockets are formed below the gum line, trapping food and plaque. If proper dental treatment is started at this time and if the individual makes a commitment to improving home dental hygiene further damage to the gums can be prevented.
The last stage of gum disease is called, “advanced periodontitis”. This stage of gum disease in which the bone supporting the teeth are destroyed and the connective tissues is also destroyed is when teeth will shift and loosen, you may have teeth that have fallen out. Your bite will be affected. Your dentist may not be able to save your teeth even after doing all that modern dentistry has to offer, if this happens the dentist will have to pull the remaining diseased teeth.
Symptoms of gum disease:
* Red, puffy, tender and swollen gums
* Bleeding gums
* Receding gum line that makes teeth look longer
* Gums that have separated or pulled away from teeth creating a pocket
* Changes in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
* The presence of pus between your teeth and gums
* Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth