What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is the colloquial term for bacterial conditions called gingivitis and periodontitis. It is caused by inflammation – the natural immune system response to the presence of bacterial plaque on the teeth. The unfortunate by-product of this inflammation is destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth – the gums and jawbone. When plaque is not shifted properly it hardens to form calculus, or tartar, which makes it easier for more plaque to build up on the teeth.
Stages of Gum Disease
• The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis and can be noticed by redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing. Healthy gums don’t bleed! Gingivitis is completely reversible with no permanent residual problems to be expected.
• The next stages are early and moderate periodontitis. The distinction between gingivitis and periodontitis comes down to whether there has been any loss of the gum and jawbone surrounding the tooth. The earlier periodontitis can be halted and managed, the better the long term outcome for the teeth affected.
• The final stage, advance periodontitis, is very difficult to treat and maintain. Teeth have a higher chance of being lost due to the amount of gum and jawbone destruction that has occurred. Patients are usually referred to a periodontist for this treatment, which can involve gum surgery.
Early to moderate gum disease progress can be halted by simply removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and conducting proper maintenance, such as brushing and flossing as well as regular professional dental visits.
Advanced gum disease on the other hand is difficult to control and often leads to the loss of teeth.
Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease and decreases treatment success.
If you suspect you may have gum disease, a trip to the dentist for an examination and x-rays will provide an answer. Tonia Russell, a dental hygienist at Apple Dental has the role of treating and preventing gum disease. At her disposal is advanced, low-dose digital 3D x-ray which allows exceptional clarity for the detection and treatment of gum disease.