Gum disease is basically the beginning of destruction of the structures supporting the teeth – the periodontium and the bone. Although aged people are more prone to suffer from gum diseases, this disease also affects children. Gum disease begins with build-up of bacteria in plaque and tartar deposited on the teeth and if untreated may cause irreversible damage to teeth and gums.
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is mainly caused by the germs in plaque. Apart from this, there are few factors that cause gum disease such as -
Lack of oral hygiene: It is one of the most common causes of gum disease. Poor oral hygiene causes plaque and tartar to get deposited on your teeth, causing irritation in the gums thereby leading to gum disease.
Dental problems: Some of the common dental issues such as improper position of teeth, faulty or irritating tooth fillings and dentures, partially impacted wisdom tooth and a missing tooth can cause gum disease.
Diabetes: If your blood sugar levels are not within control, you are more likely to get gum disease. Although the exact reason is still unknown, there has been a strong relation between diabetes and gum disease.Here’s how diabetes affects your teeth and oral health.
Certain medications: Medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, some seizure medications, immune-suppressants, chemotherapy drugs and medicines for high blood pressure and birth control products are some drugs that cause gum bleeding, dry mouth and ulcers, making you susceptible to gum disease. Read more about gum problems due to medications.
Hormonal changes: You may suffer from gum disease due to hormonal changes that mainly occur during puberty, pregnancy and menstruation.
Stress: When you are stressed out, there is an increased production of hormones that reduce saliva production and also decrease immunity thereby predisposing you to gum disease. Here are 7 reasons stress could be bad for your teeth and gums.
Read more about are these 10 habits destroying your teeth and gums?
There are three stages of gum disease namely -
Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease, an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gum line. Characterized by bleeding of the gums, the damage caused can be improved.
Periodontitis: In this case, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. It requires proper dental treatment and improved home care to prevent further damage.
Advanced Periodontitis: In this final stage, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen. The gum pulls away from the teeth to form pockets and the bone that supports the teeth is destroyed. Once the tooth loses its support, it becomes less functional ultimately leading to its loss.
Know in detail about various terms related to gum disease.
Some people are more prone to severe gum disease because they may be genetically predisposed to develop gum disease. Apart from this, lack of proper oral hygiene is one of the key factors that increase your risk of suffering from this condition.
Here are top 10 facts you should know about flossing.
Gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common among adults. Initial stage of gum disease often goes unnoticed. As the disease progresses the colour of the gum changes from a healthy pink to bright red. Here are few symptoms of gum disease which require a visit to dentist for proper diagnosis.
If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will first ask you about your past or present gum problems. Your dentist assesses the severity and extent of your gum disease by checking the following:
- Ask you about your past or present gum problems.
- Examine your mouth and teeth for signs of red, swollen gums and plaque or tartar on the teeth near the gums.
- Measure the depth of the pocket below your gums with a probe. The larger and deeper the pocket, the more severe is the disease.
- Check abscess and signs of teeth sensitivity and mobility
- Might recommend dental x-ray to look for severity of bone destruction
Here is detailed information on how a dentist assesses your gum disease.
Treatment options depend on the stage of the disease. However, the main goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, infection and depth of pockets, stop disease progression and help reattachment of healthy gums to teeth. The common treatment options include –
Medications: Certain medications like antibiotics and painkillers may be prescribed either alone or along with other treatments to control the gum disease causing bacteria.
Scaling: Also known as professional cleaning, it one of the most effective treatments of mild to moderate forms of gum diseases. Read more about what is scaling or professional dental cleaning?
Surgery: For advanced gum diseases, scaling is followed by surgery. It mainly involves surgical restoration of supportive tissues like the bone, gums and periodontium.
Laser treatment: It is a procedure where laser energy is delivered through optical fibres and is used to cut and clean the surgical area. Here’s what you should know about treating gum disease with lasers.
Read more about why gum disease doesn’t always need surgery.
In gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, the gums become red and swollen and bleed easily. If left untreated, the bacteria in the plaque invade and destroy the surrounding bone and supporting structure of the teeth leading to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.
Also, infection of gums can affect heart and other organs and vice versa. Gum disease can happen more often, be more severe, and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. Studies have shown that people with gum disease have a higher risk for heart disease. According to some studies, severe gum disease during pregnancy has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight.
Read in detail about how ignoring gum problems could lead to diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions!
Here are top 5 effective herbal remedies that might help you to keep gum disease at bay –
Here is detailed information on 5 herbal remedies to prevent gum disease.
You can prevent gum disease by following few simple tips such as –
Maintaining good oral hygiene: It includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once or twice a day preferably after dinner. Here are 8 tips to improve your oral hygiene.
Eat a well-balanced diet: Deficiencies of folic acid, zinc and iron can cause gum disease and hence, consuming diet rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients helps in the prevention of gum disease.
Kick the butt: Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk of developing gum disease. Also, smoking delays wound healing and lowers the chances of treatment success. Read about 25 things that happen inside your body when you smoke.
Reduce stress. During stress high levels of the hormone cortisol is produced, which wreaks havoc on your gums too.
Visit a dentist. Even after following all the tips mentioned above, you still need to visit your dentist once in six months or a year.
Here’s more about how to maintain healthy gums.