Although it can be one of the most serious and painful oral health problems, many patients still don’t know enough about gum disease. To help you keep your patients well informed, we have created a simple explanation of gum disease and practical tips on how to prevent it. Please feel free to print the information and distribute to your patients as needed.
Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease and is reversible with proper oral care. There may be no discomfort, so it is important to watch for some of the warning signs.
The more advanced form of gum disease, periodontitis, requires attention by a dental professional who may perform a root planing and scaling procedure to remove the plaque and calculus accumulated below the gingival line. Surgery may be required when the supporting gum and bone tissues have deteriorated in the most advanced stages of the disease.
Many people focus on diet and exercise but oftentimes don’t give their teeth, gums or mouth a second thought. For some, the wake-up call comes after significant procedures are required at their dental office. However, for all of us, oral care should become a necessary part of our routines due to the link between oral health and overall health. Although we’d rather focus on the positives of maintaining healthy teeth and gums…the positive self esteem…the willingness to flash your bright smile and light up the room, studies have shown that oral bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel throughout the body. Bodily responses to the bacteria, including generation of cytokines, can lead to serious health problems, such as increased risk for cardiovascular disease, aggravation of diabetes, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, stroke and even adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Gum disease is classified in terms of severity, with gingivitis being the mildest form. Gingivitis is the most easily treated and reversible form of gum disease. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis.
The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the gums caused by plaque build-up at the gumline. Plaque is bacteria that needs to be removed regularly or it will harden into tartar which can only be removed by your dental professional.
There are factors that can make an individual more susceptible to gingivitis including:
With a lot of health or medical conditions, pain is a trigger to signal the presence of a problem. However, with gingivitis, there is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Therefore, it is important to recognize the early symptoms:
The incidence of gum disease is high, underlying the importance of recognizing the signs of early gum disease (gingivitis) before it progresses to periodontitis and eventually the destruction of bone and tooth loss.
It is important to think of your oral health as a collaborative effort between you and your dental professional. You're in charge of daily maintenance, while your dentist has the task of closely examining your teeth and gums, to identify any changes that could be a cause for concern. With gingivitis, the initial warning signs might go undetected. However, regular visits to your dental professional can keep your oral health in check. As mentioned, gingivitis is reversible, so early detection is important, coupled with professional treatment and good oral home care.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into an advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis, which damages the gum tissue and underlying bone. Tooth loss and other damage caused by periodontitis cannot be reversed. However, your dental professional can limit further damage by stopping the progression of periodontitis. Many recent medical studies have shown there is a link between poor oral health and serious health conditions – like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. By arming yourself with the right dental products, having regular check-ups and being aware of how your oral health relates to overall health, you’ll be well on your way to healthier teeth and gums – and a healthier you.