Gum Disease - What is All the Floss About?
Gum disease. It is a term many of us have heard from our dentist or dental hygienist. But, do you really know what this is and why it matters?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, as we dental people refer to it as, can be broken down into two main categories:
1. Gingivitis - This is when the gums are inflamed, swollen, red, and bleed easily (Do you ever see blood in the sink when you are brushing?). The main cause of gingivitis is a build-up of plaque, often from suboptimal home oral hygiene. Luckily, this is reversible with professional treatment and a diligent home routine (helloooo dental floss!).
2. Periodontitis/Periodontal Disease - If left untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, aka gum disease. Over time, that extra plaque grows and spreads below the gumline. The bacteria in the plaque produce toxins. This triggers an inflammatory response, causing the body to essentially turn on itself. The chronic irritation causes breakdown and destruction of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums separate from the teeth and form pockets (aka spaces between the teeth and gums). As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen, leaving more room for plaque and tartar to build-up. More plaque = more bacteria = more toxins = more destruction. If left untreated, the tooth support is progressively destroyed, and teeth can eventually become loose or even need to be removed. Yikes!!
One of the scariest parts of this process is that there is usually little to no pain involved in the early stages. This is why our dental team performs thorough assessments of your gum health so this cycle can be stopped and treated before the periodontal disease becomes too advanced to manage. There is no cure for periodontal disease, but there are protocols that can be followed to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout your life.
At Crestmont Dental, we strive to educate our patients about gum disease and the different preventative measures that can be taken. If you have any questions or concerns, bring them up at your next visit! We would love to get that conversation going.
Happy smiling :)