What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) refers to inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria or other microorganisms. These organisms cause plaque, tartar, infection and even cancer. They are not just found in your mouth; they may affect any part of the body where there is an open wound such as the nose, throat or eyes.
The most common types of gum disease include periodontitis, gingivitis and periodontal abscesses. Periodontitis occurs when bacteria invade the tissues around the teeth causing them to become inflamed. Gingivitis is similar to periodontitis except it affects the tissue surrounding the gums instead of inside them. A form called periodontal abscess causes a pocket of infected material to grow into a cavity in the bone or cartilage behind your teeth.
How Do I Get Gum Disease?
Bacteria and other microorganisms live in your mouth. When these organisms come into contact with saliva, food particles or other substances, they produce acids which attack the tissues around the teeth. The result is a hole in the tooth that cannot heal properly because it lacks proper support. If left untreated, this type of gum disease can lead to loss of tooth structure and eventually to tooth decay.
How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
The first step in treating any type of gum disease is recognizing that you have it. You may notice bleeding from your gums, swollen or tender gums, bad breath or loose teeth. Your dentist or hygienist can usually detect signs of gum disease during an exam but you should also examine your teeth and gums daily. You can easily do this by brushing your teeth in a mirror and looking for swollen or bleeding gums. You should also brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist for regular cleanings.
What Are the Different Types of Gum Disease?
The first signs of gum disease are usually swollen or bleeding gums. Even if you don’t experience these symptoms, there are certain types of gum disease you should be aware of.
Gingivitis: This is a non-surgical treatment that causes infection and inflammation of the gums. It is easily detected by swelling, bleeding or tenderness of the gums.
Periodontitis: This is the most common type of gum disease and affects about 3 out of 4 people at some time in their life.
Pericoronitis: This type of periodontal disease involves the tissue surrounding the crown or root of a tooth.
Pyorrhoea Alveolaris: This rare type occurs when the root of a tooth is destroyed by one or more periodontal pockets.
What are the Signs of Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a form of non-inflamed gum disease that can lead to loss of jawbone which is called bone loss or ALO. As the bone loss progresses, the teeth become loose and may have to be removed.
You should have a dental exam at least once per year and more frequently if you have risk factors for periodontitis such as smoking, diabetes or a family history of the disease. During your dental examination, your dentist or hygienist will check for signs of periodontal disease by examining your gums and hard and soft tissue around your teeth. They will look for signs of swelling, bleeding, redness, tenderness, bumps or pockets around your teeth.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Adults need to have regular dental checkups and cleanings at least once every six months. If you are diabetic, have a history of smoking, take birth control pills or steroids, or suffer from medical conditions such as cancer, HIV or others, you will probably need more frequent checkups. You should also schedule an appointment if you experience bleeding gums, mouth pain or problems chewing, swallowing or tasting food. You should also have your teeth cleaned at least once every six months and floss daily to avoid the risk of developing periodontal disease.
What Should I Do If I Have Gum Disease?
You should contact a dentist who can give you treatment options to treat your type of gum disease once it has been diagnosed. The dentist may suggest non-surgical treatments such as special diets, antibiotics or tooth extraction. In some cases, the dentist may suggest surgery to repair or remove affected tissue such as gingivectomy (to remove excess tissue) or flap surgery (to remove infected tissue and repair bone loss).
What Should I Do If I Lose a Tooth?
If you have lost a tooth, you should contact your dentist right away to arrange immediate replacement. You can also temporarily replace the tooth by placing it in a glass of milk and visit an emergency room or dental clinic.
Sources & references used in this article:
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