What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is a harmful oral infection that starts in your gum tissue. It results from a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that leaves sticky deposits called plaque on your teeth.
Without treatment, gum disease can lead to major consequences for your health. Unfortunately, nearly half of American adults suffer from this condition. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can seek treatment right away.
Stages of Gum Disease
- Gingivitis — This describes the early stage of periodontal disease when your gums start to appear red and swollen. There’s often no pain or other symptoms at this point, so many patients don’t even realize that they have an infection.
- Periodontitis — If you don’t get it treated quickly enough, gingivitis will progress into the more advanced stage of periodontitis. This is when bacteria starts to destroy the bones and tissues in your mouth, causing severe pain and eventual tooth loss.
Risk Factors of Gum Disease
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of gum disease. Some of these include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Medications that reduce saliva flow
- Certain health conditions, such as cancer or AIDS
If your gums look red and swollen, or if they start to bleed when you brush your teeth, contact our office immediately.
If you seek treatment while your infection is still in the gingivitis stage, the symptoms are often relatively easy to reverse. Sometimes, you can even eliminate gingivitis yourself with improved oral hygiene at home.
If this isn’t successful, we can rid your mouth of bacteria with scaling and root planing therapy. Also known as deep cleaning, this treatment involves using specialized tools to remove plaque from above and below your gumline.
Once gum disease has progressed to the periodontitis stage, treatment becomes more difficult. The traditional treatment method is periodontal surgery, an often painful procedure that damages your healthy gum tissue.
As a minimally invasive, pain-free alternative, we’re proud to offer LANAP® laser treatment at our practice. Using a highly selective dental laser called the PerioLase® MVP-7™, one of our dentists can vaporize bacteria deep within your gum pockets while leaving your healthy tissue intact.
Unlike traditional surgery, LANAP treatment results in little to no pain and discomfort. Recovering from the procedure is also a fairly quick and minimal process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by an excess of plaque in your teeth and gums. To prevent plaque from building up, make sure to brush and floss every day in addition to visiting our practice at least twice a year for checkups.
What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease when your symptoms are mild. Periodontitis is the advanced stage when your teeth become loose and your health is threatened.
What if I leave my gum disease untreated?
The faster you seek treatment for gum disease, the less likely you are to suffer from any related complications. These include tooth loss, cardiovascular issues, and more.
What’s the best mouthwash to prevent gum disease?
There are a wide variety of antibacterial mouthwashes that can help to eliminate plaque and prevent gum disease. Two popular options that we recommend are Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash and Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield.
Visit Central Texas Dental Care for Periodontal Therapy
Gum disease starts as a relatively minor issue, but it can quickly turn into a serious problem without fast treatment.
If you suspect that you may have gum disease, call our office at (254) 666-1686 and schedule a consultation with one of our dentists. We’ll restore your gums and protect your smile for many years to come.