You’ve just scheduled a dental exam and cleaning because you know it’s important to take good care of your teeth. Awesome! But did you know the exam and cleaning doesn’t focus on just your teeth? Your gum health is an important factor too. Many people have periodontal disease (gum disease) and some don’t know it. By getting regular exams and cleanings we can check the health of your gums to help prevent or to treat gum disease. The team at Reston Serenity Smiles is here to help you. Gum disease affects more than you think. It can affect your overall health.
How Gum Disease Starts
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. When plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, builds up on your teeth, it causes gingivitis. Once plaque reaches the gum line, your gums can become red and swollen. Then, your gums will bleed easily.
Note: When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets. Bacteria collect in the pockets, leading to infection and bone loss. The teeth can become loose and need extraction.
Forms of Advanced Gum Disease
Chronic periodontitis is the most common type of gum disease. When plaque travels below the gumline, it can turn into chronic periodontitis (advanced gum disease). The bacteria in the plaque spreads infection, irritating the gums and causing swelling. If untreated, gum disease can destroy tissue and bone supporting the teeth.
Aggressive periodontitis is identical to chronic periodontitis, but it progresses faster. Patients with aggressive periodontitis have rapid gum separation and bone loss. People who smoke and patients with a family history of periodontal disease are more likely to get this gum disease.
Systemic periodontitis is caused by diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, or other systemic diseases. The underlying systemic disease makes the gum disease progress faster even when there is little plaque on the teeth.
Necrotizing periodontitis (a rare form of gum disease) is found in patients who suffer from malnutrition, immunosuppression, or HIV. It causes mouth ulcers and necrosis (death of tissue). Also, it can cause severe gum loss and bone destruction.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
- Poor Oral Hygiene — Plaque buildup is the main cause of gum disease.
- Age — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that around 47 percent of people age 30 or older have gum disease.
- Diet — Poor nutrition can increase the risk of gum disease.
- Pregnancy — Some pregnant women get gingivitis because of fluctuating hormones.
- Smoking — Smoking is a high-risk factor for gum disease.
- Diabetes — Poorly controlled diabetes increases your risk of gum disease.
- Genetics — Your risk increases if there is gum disease in your family history.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
- Gums bleed when you brush your teeth
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Gums pulling away from your teeth
- Permanent teeth become loose
- Changes in the way your teeth come together
The great news is by practicing good oral hygiene and receiving regular cleanings and exams, you can reverse the early stages of gum disease. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day are recommended good oral hygiene practices.
Has six months passed since your last dental visit? Contact our office to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve patients in Reston, Virginia, and the surrounding areas.