What Is Gum Disease?

What Is Gum Disease?

TeamOral Surgery

More formally known as periodontal disease, gum disease refers to the inflammation and infection of the gums that hold your teeth in place. This occurs due to the buildup of plaque and bacteria that have found their way into these soft tissues. 

Here is everything you need to know about gum disease. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

A few of the most common symptoms of gum disease include: 

  • Bleeding gums 
  • Tender, red, or inflamed gums
  • Receding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Pain while chewing
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the tooth
  • Loose teeth

It is tough to miss the signs and symptoms of gum disease. So if you do experience them, it is important to reach out to your dentist right away. 

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease goes through different stages. The good news is that it can either be reversed or halted as long as treatment is sought. 

The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. This is when only the gums are impacted and the patient may not even realize anything is going on. 

With gingivitis, the gums may be bleeding, swollen, or receding, and bad breath may be a problem. All of this is relatively mild at this stage and, with the right attention, can be reversed entirely. 

Advanced stages of gum disease are referred to as periodontitis. At this stage, the gums are impacted as well as the tooth’s bone structure. This puts the tooth in serious jeopardy. 

As periodontitis progresses, the gums begin pulling away from the teeth as they fill with bacteria, plaque, and food debris. This quickly leads to an infection that attacks the bone, too. Without treatment, this continues to spread. 

Eventually, bone is lost, gum recession continues, and teeth fall out because they no longer have the necessary support.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

Everyone is at risk for developing gum disease - and it can start at any time. However, there are a few things that can increase this risk even more, including: 

  • Having poor oral hygiene habits
  • Genetics
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Crooked, misaligned, or overcrowded teeth
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco

Although you should always be monitoring your oral health, knowing you have one of these advanced risk factors makes it even more imperative to pay closer attention. 

Treating Gum Disease

Gum disease can be successfully managed. While gingivitis can be completely reversed with the right care, periodontitis can be halted from spreading further. Unfortunately, it cannot be reversed entirely. 

Routine dental cleanings and examinations by the dentist can catch gum disease in its earliest stages. This is why it is so important to visit your dentist every 6 months as part of preventative care. 

Further treatment is known as scaling and root planing. Scaling, a non-surgical procedure, involves the use of special instruments to remove the buildup of plaque and calculus underneath the gums. Because these pockets are no longer close enough to the tooth to offer support, root planing is the second part of the procedure that smooths out the roots and helps gums to heal and reattach to the tooth’s surface. 

Scaling and root planing can be highly effective treatment for gum disease. For more advanced stages, oral surgery may be required. 

Need Treatment For Gum Disease?

If you have been told you have gum disease or are showing any of the above symptoms, don’t put off seeking treatment. At San Francisco Dental Wellness Dr. Chui and his team of dental professionals have extensive experience and understands just how much overall wellness can be impacted by poor oral health - so time is of the essence. Dr. Chui provides effective treatment to veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders as the clinical director at the San Francisco VA medical center.

Contact us today at 415-781-1944 or request an appointment online.