Gum or periodontal disease is an infection that affects the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Inadequate flossing and brushing methods could lead to a build-up of plaque on the teeth leading to gum disease. Plaque consists of a sticky film of bacteria, which hardens on the surface of the teeth. If you fail to seek gum disease treatment at an early stage, the symptoms will worsen. At advanced stages, gum disease could lead to severe symptoms like chewing problems, sore and bleeding gums, or tooth loss. Northridge Dentist provides the best treatment for gum disease to prevent symptoms from advancing.

The Causes of Gum Disease

Our mouths are full of bacteria, both healthy and harmful ones. When these bacteria mix with mucus and other particles, they often form a sticky substance known as plaque. You can prevent plaque buildup if you observe proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth build-up of plaque. However, if you leave the plaque in your mouth, it will eventually harden and form tartar. Tartar is hard to clean even with brushing and flossing. With a build-up of tartar, you will need a professional dentist to remove your teeth. The accumulation of tartar could eventually lead to gum disease.

Even though plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, other factors also increase your risk of getting gum disease:

  • You could develop gum disease due to hormonal changes. You are likely to experience hormonal changes during puberty, monthly menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. Hormonal changes during these periods make your gums more sensitive, making it easy for gingivitis to develop.

  • You could also develop gum disease due to certain illnesses that might affect your gums. Diseases like HIV and cancer could interfere with your immune system and make you more prone to periodontal disease. You will also be at a higher risk of developing gum disease if you have diabetes. Diabetes affects your body's ability to use blood sugar, which puts you at a higher risk of infections. You will be more likely to develop cavities and periodontal disease than a person who does not suffer from gum disease.

  • Consuming certain medications could put you at a higher risk of developing gum disease. Some drugs could make your mouth dry by lessening the flow of saliva. This could put you at risk of gum disease because saliva helps to form a protective cover on the teeth and gums. Some drugs could also cause abnormal gum tissue growth, which would put you at a higher risk of gum disease.

  • You will be at a higher risk of developing gum disease if you have a family history of gum disease. Most people who build gingivitis have a family history of the illness.

  • You will also be at a higher risk of developing gum disease if you engage in certain behaviors like smoking. Smoking makes it hard for the gum tissues to repair themselves, making them more susceptible to gum disease.

  • If you have crooked teeth that are hard to clean, you will be at a high risk of developing gum disease. It will be hard to remove the plaque that builds up on the teeth's surfaces if your teeth are crooked.

Even if there are many risk factors for gum disease, poor dental hygiene habits remain the most significant risk factor. Failing to brush or floss your teeth daily makes it easy for gingivitis to develop. You can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum disease by cleaning your teeth adequately and by visiting your dentist regularly.

Gingivitis and Gum Disease

Gum disease also goes by the name periodontitis or periodontitis. It begins with the growth of bacteria in the mouth, and if not treated properly, it might end up with tooth loss. Periodontal disease could also lead to the tissue destruction on areas surrounding your teeth.

Gingivitis, characterized by gum inflammation, develops before the periodontal disease. However, not all forms of gingivitis will progress to periodontal disease. The early stages of gingivitis involve a build-up of bacteria leading to gum inflammation. If you have gingivitis, your gums are likely to bleed as you brush your teeth. Even if gingivitis could irritate your gum, the teeth remain planted firmly in their sockets. If gingivitis has not developed to gum disease, you will not experience tissue damage and irreversible bone damage.

If you leave gingivitis untreated, the condition might develop into gum disease/periodontitis. When the condition advances into gum disease, the inner layer of your gum and bone will pull off from your teeth, leading to the formation of pockets. The pockets comprise small spaces between the teeth and the gums. These spaces will collect particles and debris and develop an infection. The immune system in your body will continue to fight the harmful bacteria even as plaque grows and spreads beneath your gum line.

As periodontitis progresses, you will suffer bone and tissue damage. This damage occurs as poisons and toxins produced by the bacteria found in plaque start to wear off the connective tissue and the bone. When this damage occurs, your teeth will become loose, leading to a risk of tooth loss. In most adults, gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Seeking Medical Care

You should see your dentist if you suspect that you are suffering from gum disease. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the higher the likelihood of recovery. If the condition is in the gingivitis stage, it is still reversible as long as you seek treatment. At the gingivitis stage, professional dental cleaning at the dentist's office might be enough to eliminate it. You have to follow up the professional cleaning with regular brushing and flossing.

When gingivitis advances into periodontitis, your teeth will begin to feel loose. Your teeth could start moving in your mouth. In most cases, periodontitis develops in adults. However, the disease could also affect younger people. If not treated, the condition gets worse slowly but also has periods of rapid progression.

If you happen to develop aggressive periodontitis, the consequences could be detrimental. This illness develops in otherwise healthy patients. Common symptoms of the illness include rapid bone and tissue loss in certain areas of the mouth.

Always remember that it is possible to have gum disease and not show any signs. Therefore, it is important to undergo regular dental check-ups. You should not wait until gum disease progresses to the point of losing your teeth.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Sometimes, you could be suffering from gum disease without even knowing it. The disease might progress easily and produce few or no signs even in its late stages. Even if some gum disease symptoms might be mild, some are visible and can help you know that you are suffering from the condition. You could tell that you are suffering from gum disease if you notice:

  • Bleeding on the gums. The bleeding often occurs while brushing or after brushing your teeth

  • Swollen, tender, or red gums are signs of gum disease

  • A bad taste in your mouth and a persistent bad breath could be signs of gum disease

  • Receding gums might occur due to the erosion on the gums caused by gum disease

  • You might notice the development of deep pockets in the area between your gums and teeth

  • Shifting or loosening of the teeth could be a sign of gum disease

  • If you notice a change in the way your teeth fit in together especially while biting down, it could be an indication that you are suffering from gum disease

You could be suffering from gum disease even though you do not see any visible symptoms. In most individuals, gum disease affects certain teeth like molars. If you visit your dentist, he/she will diagnose the disease and determine its progression.

Diagnosis of Gum Disease

When you visit a dental office, the dentist could diagnose gum disease by:

  • Examining your gums to identify inflammation signs

  • The doctor might also measure the pockets around your teeth using a small ruler known as a probe. If you have a healthy mouth, pockets’ depth should range from 1 to 3 mm. The measurement to determine the depth of the pockets in your mouth is usually painless.

  • While diagnosing gum disease, the dentist might ask about your medical history to enable him to determine if you have conditions or risk factors for gum disease. For instance, if you have a history of smoking or diabetes, you could be at a higher risk of developing gum disease.

  • Your dentist might also take an x-ray of your jaws to determine if the gum disease has contributed to bone loss.

  • If need be, a dentist might refer you to a professional periodontist. A periodontist is a medical expert who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. A periodontist may offer advanced level treatment for gum disease.

  • A dentist could also examine your teeth to determine teeth movement, sensitivity, and alignment.

Treatment for Gum Disease

The key goal of the treatment of gum disease is to help control infection. There are several methods of treating gum disease. The technique that your dentist will adopt will differ depending on the spread of the periodontal disease. Even after undergoing treatment for gum disease, you will need to continue observing good oral health while at home. After administering treatment for gum disease, your dentist might recommend a behavior change. For instance, your dentist might advise you to quit smoking; smoking could lead to the recurrence of gum disease after treatment.

The treatments for gum disease fall under two categories: surgical and non-surgical. When choosing the right treatment method for you, your dentist will consider the stage of the disease. The dentist might also consider how you have responded to other forms of treatment for gum disease.

Non-surgical treatments for gum disease will help to control the growth of bacteria. Some of the non-surgical treatment methods for gum disease include:

Professional Teeth Cleaning

During the routine dental check-ups, your dentist could clean your teeth and remove plaque and tartar that could have accumulated on them. When plaque hardens on the tooth’s surface, only professional dental cleaning can help to remove it. Using the most appropriate cleaning methods, your dentist can remove tartar from all the teeth, also from above and below the gum line.

If you have visible signs of gum disease, your dentist might recommend professional teeth cleaning twice a year. Note that dental cleaning might not be the ideal treatment if you already have active gum disease. However, dental cleanings serve as excellent preventive measures to help prevent further development of gum disease.

Root Planing and Scaling

Root planing and scaling is a non-surgical procedure that involves a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Your doctor will perform this procedure under local anesthesia. While carrying out the procedure, the dentist will scrape away or scale tartar from the gum line. Through planing, the dentist will smooth rough spots on the roots of your teeth.

By smoothing the rough spots on the teeth, the dentist will be able to remove bacteria. Smoothing will also provide a clean surface, which allows the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and planing will only be necessary if your dentist or periodontist establishes plaque or tartar on your teeth, which needs removal.

Surgical Treatment Procedures

Surgery might be necessary while treating gum disease, especially if the disease is at an advanced stage. Some of the suitable surgical procedures include:

Pocket Reduction Surgery

The alternative name for pocket reduction surgery is flap surgery. This procedure involves lifting the gums back to enable the removal of tartar. In some instances, your dentist could smooth damaged bone and irregular surfaces to limit areas where bacteria might accumulate. After removing tartar, your dentist will then place the gums so that the tissue fits well around the teeth. This proper fit will ensure that their harmful bacteria will have limited room for growth. This procedure helps minimize the likelihood of developing severe health problems that could result from periodontal gum disease.

Jaw Bone Grafts

Bone grafts are necessary if you have suffered severe bone loss due to gum disease. This procedure involves using bone fragments of your bone, an artificial, or donated bone to replace your jawbone after suffering a bone loss. Grafting helps to stimulate the bones’ regrowth, which helps restore the stability of the teeth. Dental experts could also use a new technology known as tissue engineering to encourage your own body to regenerate jaw bone and gum tissue at a high rate.

Repairing Receded Gum With Soft Tissue Grafts

If you have thin or receded gums because of gum disease, soft tissue grafts will come in handy. This procedure entails reinforcing the gums and filling in areas where the gum has receded. The periodontist could obtain grafter tissue from the roof of your mouth and plant it on your gums. The periodontist will stitch the graft tissue to the affected areas to help add tissue to the areas.

Restoring Destroyed Bone Through Guided Tissue Regeneration

In advanced forms of gum disease, the bone supporting your teeth could have suffered damage. Your dentist might recommend guided tissue regeneration. The procedure stimulates gum and bone tissue growth and is performed through guided tissue regeneration combined with flap surgery. The procedure entails inserting a small piece of fabric, resembling a mesh between your gum tissue and jawbone. This mesh ensures that the gum tissue will not grow in the area where the bone should be. This procedure gives bone and the connective tissue a chance to regrow and provide better support to the teeth.

Bone Surgery

Your dentist might perform bone surgery to smooth the shallow craters, which might have occurred in the bone. The cavities could occur due to advanced or moderate bone loss. After conducting a flap surgery, the dentist will reshape the bone around the tooth to help reduce craters. This will make it hard for the collection and regrowing of harmful bacteria.

Sometimes, non-surgical procedures like scaling and planing are enough to treat gum disease. However, if the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy, and the dentist cannot repair it through non-surgical procedures, surgery would be important.

Gum Disease Prevention

It is easy to reverse gingivitis through professional dental cleaning. With proper plaque control, it is possible to stop the progression of the disease at all stages. You can practice proper plaque control by ensuring that you undergo professional teeth cleaning at least two times a year. You should also brush and floss your teeth daily. Brushing helps remove plaque from the teeth’ reachable surfaces. Flossing, on the other hand, helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and beneath the gum line. You could also use an antibacterial mouthwash to help rinse and reduce bacteria that often cause plaque and gum disease.

The best way of preventing the development of gum disease is to lead a healthy lifestyle:

Quit Smoking

Tobacco, the main ingredient of cigarettes, is a significant risk factor for gum disease development. People who smoke have a higher chance of developing gum disease than people who do not smoke. Smoking can also lower the success of gum disease treatment. Therefore, quitting smoking would go a long way toward overcoming gum disease and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Avoid Stress

Our bodies have a natural immune system that enables them to fight infections. If you are suffering from stress, it might be difficult for your body's immune system to fight the bacteria that lead to gum disease. Therefore, you should lead a peaceful lifestyle to enable you to maintain a strong immune system. People with strong immune systems have lower risks of developing gum disease.

Proper Diet

Maintaining a proper diet could help you overcome gum disease. Proper nutrition will help you to develop a strong immune system, which will, in turn, help you to fight infections. For instance, if you consume food containing vitamin E and vitamin C, your body will be able to repair damaged body tissues. Some of the foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables. You could derive vitamin C from foods like potatoes, broccoli, and citrus fruits.

Avoid Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth

You can prevent gum disease from progressing by avoiding teeth grinding and clenching because this could strain your weak gums. Teeth grinding will put excess force on the tissues that support the teeth. This will, in turn, increase the rate at which your tissues get destroyed.

It is important to note that even though you adopt proper oral hygiene practices and a healthy lifestyle, you could still be susceptible to gum disease. People who are genetically susceptible to gum disease might develop the condition despite adopting a healthy lifestyle. If someone in your family suffers from gum disease, you are also at risk of suffering the condition.

You should inform your dentist about a family history of gum disease. By knowing that you are at a higher risk of gum disease, your dentist will recommend frequent dental check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will also recommend better treatment options to manage the condition if it occurs.

Gum Disease and Other Medical Conditions

There is a link between gum disease and the development of other serious medical conditions. If you have gum disease, the unhealthy bacteria from your mouth could enter your bloodstream. If you have a strong immune system, entry of the bacteria into your bloodstream might be harmless; however, this is not the case if you have a weak immune system.

Harmful bacteria that occur due to gum disease could lead to other health complications like heart disease and stroke. If you have diabetes, gum disease could make diabetes worse.

Find a Dentist Near Me

If you notice that your breath has a foul smell, you could have bacteria growing under your gum line. This growth of bacteria could lead to gum inflammation and infection. You are more likely to have gum disease if you smoke or have a family history of the disease. Northridge Dentist can help reverse gum disease and prevent it from advancing. We can also recommend and provide the best treatment methods for advanced gum disease. Contact us at 818-875-0216 and speak to one of our dentists.