Gum disease is a serious oral health issue that can be monitored and treated with periodontic treatments.
Over 80% of Americans have some level of gum disease, also called periodontal disease. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Because the initial signs are mild, some people don’t even realize they have a problem until the disease has wreaked havoc on their oral health. Furthermore, the link between periodontal status and systemic health is now well-established. Research shows that having periodontitis puts one at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and adverse pregnancy complications.
Periodontal disease often begins when plaque, a sticky substance emitted by oral bacteria, coats teeth and hardens into tartar. Tarter is an insoluble substance that irritates gum tissue and leads to inflammation. The early stage of periodontal disease, called gingivitis, causes swelling, redness, and bleeding of the gums. Bacteria eat away the connective tissues between gums and teeth, and as the disease progresses, the gums pull away from teeth allowing pockets of infection to form.
At scheduled dental cleanings, which you should have every six months at a minimum, a hygienist will check for periodontal pockets. If you have pockets, their depth will be measured to determine the extent of the disease. Sometimes, removing tartar from below the gum line and smoothing teeth roots (using a procedure called scaling and root planing) can halt the progression and eliminate infection. Over time, gums can heal and reattach to teeth. However, in some cases, gum disease requires more extensive treatment.
For more information about periodontics or gum disease, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at our dental office.