Gum disease is an infection that affects the tissues and bone around the teeth. Plaque, a colorless film that forms of the teeth, is full of bacteria that can cause gum disease. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar, which must then be professionally removed. It is important to attend your regular dental check-ups and cleanings to prevent gum disease or catch it early on, as untreated gum disease can lead to other medical conditions such as heart disease.
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
During your comprehensive exam, the dentist will check the pockets around each tooth. The deeper the pocket, the more serious the gum disease. Digital x-rays can also be taken to check the amount of bone surrounding each tooth. There are three general stages of gum disease, which include:
Gingivitis- This is the earliest stage of gum disease, and is defined by redness, swelling, or bleeding during flossing.
Periodontitis- During this stage, the bone and fibers that hold teeth into place are damaged. The gums will begin to form a pocket below the gum line, which can trap plaque.
Advanced Periodontitis- This is the most advanced stage of gum disease, in which the fibers and bone of your teeth are being destroyed. This can cause your teeth to shift or loosen.
How to Treat Gum Disease
Treatment for gum disease will differ depending on the type and cause of your gum disease. When gum disease is caught early enough, a professional cleaning can often treat the condition. For more severe cases, a special cleaning called scaling and root planning is often needed.