Gum disease is a common condition in which the gums become sore, swollen, or infected. Also known as periodontitis, this condition affects approximately 47.2 percent of adults aged 30 years or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of gum disease increases with age with approximately 70.1 percent of adults 65 years and older having periodontal disease.
Causes of Gum Disease
Plaque is the leading cause of gum disease. The mouth is full of bacteria, along with food particles, mucus, and other particles that form a colorless, sticky film of plaque on the teeth. Regular brushing and flossing can help to remove plaque, but when it’s not properly removed, it can harden into “tartar” which cannot be removed by brushing alone. Only a professional cleaning by a Clermont dentist or hygienist can remove tartar.
Factors Contributing to Periodontal Disease
- Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and the use of chewing tobacco can damage the delicate tissues in the mouth and make it more difficult for gum tissue to repair itself.
- Certain illnesses like HIV and cancer can negatively impact the immune system which can increase a person’s risk of developing periodontal disease. Diabetes also increases gum disease risk as it interferes with the body’s ability to use blood sugar.
- Hormonal changes such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can cause the gums to become more sensitive which makes it easier for gum disease to develop.
- Certain medications can lessen the flow of saliva in the mouth which reduces the protection of the teeth and gums. In addition, certain drugs like the anticonvulsant Dilantin or the anti-angina medication Procardia, can cause the formation of abnormal gum tissue growth.
- Family history of oral disease can increase a person’s risk of developing gum disease.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and fit snug around the teeth. When gum disease develops, a person may start to experience a wide range of symptoms, such as:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that feel tender when touched
- Bright red or purplish gums
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
- Painful chewing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose teeth or loss of teeth
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- New spaces that develop between the teeth
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing
- Change in the way that the teeth fit together
Treatment of Gum Disease
Treatment for gum disease is primarily based on how far the condition has progressed and the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Your Clermont dental practice will begin by examining the state of your gums and teeth. They will determine if you actually have gum disease or if you have gingivitis. Gingivitis is gum inflammation that occurs before periodontitis.
A person who has gingivitis may experience some swelling or bleeding while brushing due to inflammation. However, the teeth are still firmly planted. At this point, there has been no irreversible bone damage and good oral hygiene can be practiced to help reverse gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not reversed and actually progresses, periodontitis can develop. Periodontitis occurs when the inner layer of the gum starts to pull away from the teeth, causing pockets to form. As these small spaces collect debris, they can become infected. If periodontitis is allowed to progress without treatment, tooth loss can occur.
The first thing a dentist in Clermont will do if they suspect gum disease is to undergo a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Scaling and root planing may also be performed to achieve a deeper clean.
More serious cases of gum disease may require surgery. There are several types of surgical procedures used by local dentists to treat this disease, such as flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery, soft tissue grafts, bone grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and bone surgery.
Contact a Dentist in Clermont, FL
Interested in learning more about gum disease or have a concern about the state of your gums? Reach out to our friendly Clermont family dentistry practice at Hancock Village Dental today.