Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults. Because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular checkup, Dr. Fong will check for signs of gum disease.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria that forms on the teeth, also known as plaque. If the plaque is not removed, it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Gum disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. The two stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis — This is the early stage of gum disease when the gums become red, swollen, and bleeds easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable with daily brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis. At this stage the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously damaged. Gums infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or be removed by a dentist.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease:
- Failure to make routine visits to the dentist for cleaning and exams
- Improper or inadequate home care
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Bridges that improperly fit
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
- Certain medications (please check with Dr. Fong)
Gum disease symptoms include:
- Gums that easily bleed
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
- Note: you can still have gum disease without any of the symptoms above
Gum Disease Treatments
Gum disease treatments vary depending on the severity of each case. Typical treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatments such as at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
- Dental implants
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups, removal of tartar, and periodontal examinations are important for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. Practicing good oral hygiene at home such as proper brushing and flossing can significantly reduce your chances of developing gum disease. Remember to brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.