Gum Disease: FAQs Answered by a Dentist

One of the most common dental infections is periodontal disease, a gum disease. It causes the damage of gums, bone, and other tissues that underpin your teeth. Patients with untreated gum disease risk losing their teeth.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is an infection of gums and tissues around teeth. It is caused by plaque, namely, a sticky layer of bacteria forming on the teeth. In case plaque remains, it will harden and become tartar. Tartar is difficult to eliminate and leads to gum irritation resulting in inflammation and a disease of infection.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque. Other factors that can increase your risk of gum disease include: Poor oral hygiene
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Dry mouth
• Family history of gum disease

What are the signs and symptoms of gum disease?

Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is usually asymptomatic. However, as the disease progresses, you may experience some of the following:
• Red, swollen, or tender gums
• Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Pus between your teeth and gums
• Sensitive teeth

Can I get dental implants done if I have gum disease?

You will usually need to treat the gum condition before getting the dental implants. Dental implants require healthy gums and bones to work. It causes deterioration of the bone and the implants may become useless for gums disease.

What are the precautions that I should take for a dental implant if I have gum disease?

The treatment option for the person considering undergoing dental implants due to gum disease is to work together with a dentist on developing a treatment plan. This may include periodontal therapy to address the gum issues and make the bone ready for implants. Once the gum disease is brought under control, it becomes possible to have the implants installed.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Maintaining good oral hygiene is the most effective way to avoid gum disease. This includes tooth brushing twice per day, daily flossing, and regular dental visits for exams and cleanings.

Is gum disease reversible?

The early phase of gum disease is treatable by good dental hygiene. So as gum disease develops into periodontitis, it cannot be cured but can be treated. Treatment not only stops the development of the disease, but it also prevents further harm to your teeth and gums.

Recommended post: What is periodontal gum disease? 

How is gum disease diagnosed?

Gum disease is diagnosed by a dentist through checking the gums and teeth. They may also perform X-rays to rule out bone loss.
Visual Examination:
The first step in diagnosing gum disease for your dentist is a thorough visual exam of your mouth.
• Redness and swelling: Normal gums are pink and firm. The flare-up gums will appear redder and more swollen sometimes with a shine or polish.
• Bleeding: Inflammation is also indicated by bleeding gums, which occurs often with brushing and flossing.
• Receding gums: When gum diseases develop, the gums are set apart from the teeth to reveal a larger region of the tooth. This might lead to teeth sensitivity and eventually tooth loss.
Pockets
Healthy gums tightly bind to the teeth. During the development of gum disease, pockets are formed between the affected teeth and gums serving as an area for bacterial accumulation and infection worsening. Your dentist will use a special instrument referred to as a periodontal probe to measure the depth of these pockets. The more severe the condition the deeper the pockets.
X-rays
Although visual inspection can teach many things, x-rays help your dentist to look from behind the scenes. Dental X-rays can show:
Bone loss
One of the causes of gum disease is a weak bone supporting the teeth. By X-rays, the amount of bone loss is measured and the level of osteoporosis can be assessed.

What are the treatment options for gum disease?

The treatment of gum disease depends on the severity of the disease. Professional cleaning and improved oral hygiene may help manage mild gum disease. In some cases, a more severe form of gum disease may require scaling and root planing, which is a technique that involves removing tartar and plaque from under the gum line. At times, surgical intervention is necessary for gum disease.

Can gum disease affect overall health?

Gum disorder can affect your overall well-being. Studies have confirmed the connection between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and lung conditions.

Are there risk factors for developing gum disease?

Yes, there are several risk factors for developing gum disease, including:
• Poor oral hygiene
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Dry mouth
• Family history of gum disease
• Pregnancy
• Stress

Can gum disease be treated at home?

The early stages of gum disease can be treated with home remedies such as good oral hygiene. However, if your Gum disease is of at least moderate severity you should consult a dentist for proper treatment.

Brushing
• You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, each time for a minimum of two minutes.
• With a toothbrush that has soft bristles, and using gentle circular motions.
• Focus on the different tooth surfaces including the gums at the back and below your teeth.
• Consider an electric toothbrush to enhance the plaque removal efficacy.
Flossing
• To remove the plaque and the food that remains in between the teeth, the use of dental floss for one time a day is necessary.
• Find a flossing method that can clean your teeth without causing pain.
• Through different instruments used in flossing, one may include water flossers or interdental brushes that are favorable and convenient to some people.

Recommended post: How to brush & floss your teeth properly?

How often should I see a dentist if I have gum disease?

A regimen of checkup and cleaning will depend on the severity of the gum disease that your dentist may prescribe. Overall, frequent visits to the dentist are a common feature of gum disease patients, as opposed to those with healthy gums.

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