Looking For Answers About Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a common health concern that can be prevented, treated, or ignored until the teeth eventually go away.
Healthy gums don’t bleed unless they are cut open. Bleeding from brushing or flossing is a sure sign that gums are not healthy. Even measuring pocket depths at a dental office won’t cause healthy gums to bleed.
Cigarette smoking can make gums appear healthier than they really are because smoking decreases capillary blood flow so there is less inflammation and bleeding. However, smoking is highly associated with more advanced and more damaging gum disease.
Periodontal or ‘gum’ disease usually develops gradually and painlessly for many years. By the time obvious symptoms appear it might already be serious enough to put your teeth in danger and jeopardze your overall health.
How Gum Disease Develops
- Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that continuously grows on our teeth as it eats the food in our diet. Some of the bacteria cause cavity infections, other cause periodontal infections. If daily home cleaning doesn’t remove plaque well enough it grows into thicker stickier layers that are become even more difficult to remove. If it mineralizes into hard pieces ‘tartar’ or ‘calculus’ full of bacteria home care can’t remove and it continues to cause damage until it is processionally removed.
- Gingivitis is the name for infection in the gum. The usual signs are inflammation (redness and swelling), and easily provoked bleeding. If untreated and left to progress, gum infections break down gum tissues and detach the gums from the roots and pockets around the teeth get deeper. The deeper the pockets become the more easily they become infected and with more virulent bacteria. This destructive process is called periodontitis and the resulting more severe inflammatory response eats away the supporting bone as the immune system tries to fight the infection.
- There could be bad breath and some gum sensitivity but periodontal infections usually do not cause much pain, so to know what's actually going on it's important to have a professional evaluation.
Preventing and Treating Gum Disease At Dr. Westman's Office In Racine
Preventing gum disease before it begins or reigning in early gum disease is relatively simple in most cases. A consistent oral hygiene routine at home that includes thoroughly sonic-brushing and water-flossing is usually enough along with periodic evaluations and professional preventive cleanings.
Gum disease that has already started causing gums to detach from roots and deeper pockets to form may still be relatively simple and easy to treat if it has not progressed too much but if left unchecked it tends to become more difficult.
How Gum Disease Is Treated
- Dental x-rays show how much healthy bone surrounds the teeth
- A periodontal ruler measures the depths of gum pockets around teeth
- Professional periodontal therapy visits treat deeper under the gumline where infection has advanced
- Surgery is a last resort and is rarely necessary