It’s not at the top of most people’s minds, but gum disease can be a silent threat to oral and overall health and wellness. Its effects are devastating on an otherwise healthy smile — but fortunately, gum disease can easily be treated with early intervention. Below, find out everything you need to know about this condition, and how to seek treatment if you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from gum disease.
What Is Gum Disease?
One of the most common oral health issues experienced by adults, gum disease is a serious infection of the periodontal (gum) tissue. When proper oral hygiene is not practiced — like routine brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist — plaque and bacteria are allowed to linger in the mouth, eventually making a home in deep spaces (or “pockets”) between the teeth and gums.
The majority of adults over the age of 35 have gum disease to some extent. There are different stages of the condition, which include:
- Gingivitis: The very beginning stages of gum disease, when reversal is still possible.
- Periodontitis: The stage of gum disease, when jaw bone has been lost due to inflammation and infection.
What Are the Consequences of Gum Disease?
You may not notice gingivitis right at first — the initial consequences may include red, tender gums, bad breath, bleeding gums when flossing and a foul taste in the mouth. But after the disease progresses, you may notice all the aforementioned symptoms as well as gum recession, or the appearance that the gum tissue is disappearing from where it should be against the teeth.
Left untreated, bone and gum tissue loss due to periodontitis can result in loose, shifting teeth and eventually tooth loss.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The appropriate treatment for gum disease depends on the stage and several other factors. At first, improved oral hygiene habits and a few extra visits to the dentist may be all that is needed to return the gums to their good health. Your dentist or periodontist may recommend scaling and root planing, which is the most common initial treatment step for gum disease — special tools are used to clean above and below the gum line, smoothing the tooth’s root to prevent reinfection. In the later stages of periodontitis, surgical intervention may be necessary.
No matter which intervention is right for you, the important thing is seeking professional treatment as soon as possible! Your complete and lasting smile depends on healthy teeth and gums.
Meet the Periodontist
Dr. Alexander Schrott is a periodontist in Belmont with over a decade of experience in the field. He offers a wide array of specialty treatments — including gum disease therapy — from his state-of-the-art office. To discuss your periodontal needs or to book an appointment, you are invited to contact his friendly staff by calling (617) 484-9240 today.