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Gum Disease 101

Woman pulling down lip to reveal gum disease

Gum disease is often one of the most ignored diseases, and sadly, the most occurring diseases that affect the lives of people daily. Gum disease occurs in 85 percent of adults and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. From its earliest stages to more advanced stages, gum disease is an infection of the gums that, unfortunately, affects people’s lives each day. Here’s what you should be aware of about gum disease and how it can be treated.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Gum disease is a gum and bone infection. This infection occurs when plaque, the sticky film containing bacteria, surrounds the gums and teeth, and over time, causes redness, swelling, and bleeding. This early form of gum disease is known as gingivitis, and in these stages, it can be treated easily with dental cleaning and some medication. Plaque is the primary culprit behind this disease, and other factors come into play when gingivitis forms, including:

  • Insufficient oral hygiene – Those with poor hygiene will likely increase the chances of developing gum disease than those with a proper oral routine. People who brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily will be less likely to develop gingivitis.
  • Certain medications – Some medications prescribed can develop dry mouth, which decreases the saliva flow and thus increases the chance of developing gum disease because saliva helps wash away harmful bacteria and protect the teeth and gums.
  • Genetics – Genetics can also help develop gum disease, especially if the patient has a history of oral problems in their family.
  • Hormones – Women are more likely to have gum disease due to the various hormone changes throughout their lives, including during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
  • Medical conditions – Health conditions, such as diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and HIV, can make a person more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Smoking – Smoking has numerous negative effects on oral health, and gum disease is one of them. Smoking impairs the gum tissue’s ability to repair itself when damaged.

All of these factors affect the chance of developing gum disease. During its first stages, redness, swelling, and bleeding occur, but mildly. When gingivitis is untreated, periodontal disease soon develops, forming inflamed pockets of gums that separate from the teeth and form pockets. As these pockets deepen, the infection can spread to the tooth and bone and cause bone damage, leading to tooth decay and TMJ disorder.

How is Gum Disease Treated?

Gum disease can be prevented and treated during its early stages. Brushing and flossing remove plaque from the gums and keeps the teeth healthy. However, once it reaches its moderate to severe stages, dental intervention is needed. Gum disease treatment depends on how far it has progressed, and dentists can treat gum disease through scaling and root planing to remove the infection from underneath the gums and clean the teeth.

For more information on scaling, root planing, and how gum disease can affect your oral health, please contact Dr. Scott T Simpson for more information. Schedule an appointment at Appletree Dentistry, located in Tigard, OR, to have your annual dental cleaning and exam for a happier, healthier smile.

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