Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the gums and bone supporting your teeth. Periodontal disease is usually caused by bacterial infection and can lead to loose teeth or tooth loss if left untreated.
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque – a sticky layer of bacteria and food debris on teeth, which irritates and starts infecting both your gums and teeth.
There are 3 main stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis: is an earliest and mildest stage of periodontal disease, occurring when dental plaque irritates the gum line. In this stage, the gums that surround your teeth become red and swollen, and can bleed easily during and after tooth brushing. Despite the inflammation of your gums, the supporting structures of your teeth are not affected yet and your teeth are still firmly in place.
Periodontitis: When gingivitis is left untreated, the patient can enter the next stage of gum disease, which is periodontitis. At this stage, the infection has spread to the bone and tissues supporting and holding your teeth in place. The gums become weakened and start to form a pocket below the gum line, collecting bacteria and food debris and causing further inflammation. Some signs you need to look for are persistent bad breath, gum recession, increased redness of gums, loose or sensitive teeth, painful chewing problems, etc.
Advanced periodontitis: If not treated, periodontitis progresses to the severest stage of gum disease, advanced periodontitis. In this final stage, the pockets further deepen while the bacteria become more virulent, causing further infection. Your tooth supporting structures are also completely destroyed, therefore, your bite is affected, causing your teeth to become loose and fall out.
Gum disease is an oral health problem that can occur to anyone. Smokers and people with poor oral hygiene habits are at higher risk of having gum disease. Poor diet, hormonal changes in girls and women, certain illnesses (such as AIDS, diabetes), certain medications, genetic susceptibility, stress, etc. are other risk factors for gum disease.
If you experience any of above signs and symptoms, you should have a consultation with your dentist or periodontist to check whether or not you have some degree of gum disease. Dentists will recommend appropriate treatment options based on the stage of gum disease that you are having. Good oral hygiene and regular checkups with your dentist can resolve the earliest stage of gum disease. For periodontitis, treatment can include scaling and root planning, which will thoroughly remove all plaque and tartar from your teeth. If you are diagnosed with advanced periodontitis, surgery may be required by doctors.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should
● Practice good oral hygiene habits
● Do not smoke or Quit smoking
● Have a balanced diet
● Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning