Periodontics Basics: Gingivitis and Gum Disease
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on the inflammatory disease — gum disease — that destroys the gums and other supporting structures around the teeth, including the bone. Gum disease is a common oral health concern that needs treatment to ensure further complications do not develop.
It is important to have a full understanding of what gum disease is, what the causes are and the various early symptoms that suggest gum disease may be an issue, in order to properly check for gum disease during one’s daily routine.
Gum disease information
Gum diseases such as gingivitis can be problematic if they go unnoticed and untreated. Fortunately, however, they are preventable and can be treated with proper periodontic care.
The following is important information about gingivitis and other forms of gum disease.
Types of gum disease
There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. In most instances, gingivitis precedes periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease in which the gums begin to swell, which can cause gums to begin bleeding while brushing. Gingivitis is less serious than periodontitis, and it should be considered a red flag that there's a possibility that significant oral health concerns may develop if left untreated.
When gingivitis goes untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, which can cause the gum and jawbone to separate from teeth. Periodontitis is very serious and can lead to severe tooth complications and even tooth loss.
Causes of gum disease
The main cause of gum disease is a poor oral hygiene routine, which can lead to a buildup of plaque and cause the gums to constantly be under attack by harmful bacteria found inside the plaque.
However, some individuals have weaker gums than others, especially individuals who experience constant illnesses, take medications that lead to dry mouth or are currently experiencing hormonal changes.
When the gums are weak, they are more vulnerable to gum disease, which means extra special oral health care should be administered.
Gum disease symptoms
Fortunately, there are plenty of signs that people can recognize before gum disease worsens and causes serious oral health concerns. Here are several of the more prominent symptoms that suggest gum disease may exist:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
When detected early, gum disease is easy to treat. However, if the initial symptoms of gum disease are left untreated, more serious symptoms that point toward periodontitis can develop, such as:
- Pockets between teeth and gums
- Shifting teeth
- Loose teeth or tooth loss
With proper care, however, the more severe symptoms of gum disease can be prevented entirely.
Treatment and prevention
If the dentist diagnoses a patient with gum disease, there are various forms of treatment available, which involve removing any plaque that may exist and treating the symptoms. Although many general dentists have knowledge of periodontics, they may refer a patient to a specialist, also known as a periodontist, if the case is more severe.
Ultimately, the best way to deal with gum disease is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. In order to prevent gum disease, be sure to practice good oral hygiene by brushing several times each day and flossing and using mouthwash at least once a day. Additionally, visiting the dentist regularly for a cleaning can help prevent gum disease as well.
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