Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a common condition. It is largely preventable and treatable. As with most things, it’s best to treat early on, before the infection worsens. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth or even bone loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the biggest causes of tooth loss in adults.
Early warning signs of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity or aching
Many of the symptoms of gum disease may be silent at first. The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss twice a day, and maintain regular visits with your dentist for cleanings and exams. When you see your dentist, he or she will look for signs of gum disease, even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.
Since plaque buildup is the main cause of gum disease, it can sometimes be reversed with a professional cleaning, and proper oral hygiene routine if it’s caught in its early stage. However, if plaque and tartar have built up under the gumline, a scaling and root planing may be necessary to remove the plaque and bacteria and allow the gums to heal.
Sometimes, the gums will recede as a result of gum disease, exposing the tooth root. This will lead to increased tooth sensitivity and decay. If this is the case, a gum graft may be necessary. During a gum graft, a piece of healthy tissue from another area of the mouth is grafted onto the gum line, covering the exposed root. As the gums heal, the tissue will fuse to the gums.
With gum disease, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar). Regular brushing and flossing as well as routine dental visits are instrumental in keeping gum disease at bay.