What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontitis as it is formally called, is an inflammation of the supportive tissues around your teeth. Most people suffer from this disease at some point in their life. Although the initial stage of gum disease can be painless, it gets worse if left untreated and could result in loss of a tooth.

CAUSES

One of the causes of gum disease is poor oral hygiene; this includes poor brushing and flossing habits and allows for bacteria buildup or plaque in the area where the gum meets the teeth. Other causes include having a family history of dental disease, hormonal changes, and in some cases, kissing.  Entamoeba gingivalis is an organism found in the mouth of most people suffering from gum disease, and one of the modes of transmission is kissing.

STAGES

Gingivitis – The first stage of gum disease is called Gingivitis, and is associated with reoccurring redness and bleeding of the gums during brushing or flossing. These symptoms are as a result of the toxins plaque produces while surrounding the teeth, leading to irritations.

Periodontitis – Once ignored, Gingivitis progresses to a severe stage known as periodontitis where the bones and tissues surrounding the teeth are irreversibly affected exhibiting symptoms such as bleeding, bad breath, receding gums, loose and sensitive teeth. In this stage, the plaque begins to sink lower into the gum creating pockets below the line. Biting and chewing becomes really painful and may gradually lead to loss of teeth.

TREATMENT

Early diagnosis and intervention to treat gum disease is extremely important. Therefore, it is advisable to seek dental care once you notice any irregularities in your teeth and gums, such as bleeding or redness. Your dentist may recommend an antiseptic mouthwash if the gum disease is still in its early stage, but in the case of periodontitis, a periodontist will have to perform a gingival flap surgery. This process allows the periodontist to reach the bones holding the teeth together to restore lost bone through bone grafting.

Remember, gum disease affects most people, so always seek the advice of your dentist to prevent severe cases of gum disease.