Oral health is crucial as it affects your general wellbeing. A problem with your teeth or gums will cause you pain or discomfort. If left to linger on for much longer, it could adversely affect your wellbeing. Gum disease is one such problem that will not only affect your teeth and gums but your general health. It destroys the tissues surrounding your teeth and could lead to loss of teeth.
Thus, there is a need to seek proper dental care if you experience any issue in your mouth, like pain or discomfort. Your dentist will determine the cause of the problem and recommend the best treatment possible. He/she will also advise you on measures to take to protect your other teeth and gum. If you suspect you have gum disease in Lomita, CA, contact Washington Dental today. We have a team of caring and passionate dentists who are ready to diagnose and offer proper treatment and care until your oral health is restored.
Gum Disease Overview
Good oral hygiene goes beyond your look. It includes habits that will help prevent dental problems that bring you pain, discomfort, and inability to chew or drink when practiced well and regularly. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, taking probiotics, drinking plenty of water, and eating fibrous foods are some of these habits.
However, it is always a challenge to maintain proper dental hygiene. Before you realize it, you are experiencing problems like gum disease. When that happens, it helps to seek the help of a well-trained and experienced dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Gum disease starts with gingivitis, and then advances to periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum and happens before periodontitis. On the other hand, periodontitis is the disease itself. However, not all cases of gingivitis progress to gum disease. Most people suffer from gingivitis at one point in their lives, though sometimes with mild symptoms. Only those who experience severe symptoms recognize it and seek treatment.
Without proper treatment and care, gingivitis can become a bigger problem for your mouth and general wellbeing. The advantage is that it is preventable and can be reversed through treatment and proper dental care.
When you start developing gingivitis, bacteria begin to build up, making your gums inflamed and sensitive. Thus, they start bleeding too quickly when you brush your teeth. The irritated gums will not affect your teeth at this early stage. If left untreated, the bacteria will cause damage to the bone and other tissues surrounding your teeth. The damage could be irreversible, causing you to lose one or more teeth.
Gum disease doesn’t develop overnight. It starts with a few days of not brushing, flossing, or rinsing your teeth. When you fail to clean your teeth and mouth regularly, food remains, and bacteria develop into a sticky film called plaque, which starts to build around your teeth. This plaque begins releasing acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth. The result is tooth decay.
The plaque becomes tartar after three days. Tartar forms along your gum line, making it hard to keep your gums and teeth completely clean. Over time, these buildups inflame and irritates your gums, leading to gingivitis.
When gingivitis remains untreated, it develops into periodontitis. The inside layer of your gum and bone starts pulling away from your teeth, forming pockets. These pockets or spaces between your gums and teeth continue collecting debris, increasing their risks of being infected.
Causes of Gum Disease
The primary cause of gum disease is plaque. Plaque occurs when bacteria inside your mouth mixes with starchy or sugary foods like soft drinks, milk, pasta, bread, or fruits. Bacteria in the mouth releases acids, which break down carbohydrates. If these foods mentioned above are left in the mouth due to not cleaning your mouth as regularly as you should, they’ll eventually mix with the bacteria, forming plaque.
Other than plaque, other factors could contribute to the development of gum disease. They include:
Hormonal changes can make you more vulnerable to gum disease. These changes occur mainly during puberty, pregnancy, monthly period, and menopause. The most affected are women. For instance, female hormones like progesterone and estrogen cause more blood flow to the gums. It causes gums to be more sensitive and could react to anything that might irritate them. Gingivitis is likely to develop in sensitive gums like those.
Proper oral hygiene is recommended for people who are already experiencing gum sensitivity. You might want to avoid starchy or sugary foods. If the sensitivity persists, visit your dentist for a checkup.
Illnesses like cancer, HIV, and diabetes interfere with your immune system, lowering your body’s resistance to infections. As a result, your oral problems become even more severe. They also affect the condition of your gum, making it more sensitive than ever.
Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease since diabetes affects their body’s ability to utilize blood sugar. As a result, your body becomes more vulnerable to infections, including cavities and periodontitis.
Other medical conditions that could affect your oral health include heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, lung and kidney diseases.
Some medications affect your oral health, including vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Some drugs reduce saliva flow in the mouth, whose function is to protect your gums and teeth. Thus, they leave your gums and teeth with less protection, making them prone to infections.
Anticonvulsant medications like Dilantin and anti-aging drugs like Procardia are examples of medications that could seriously affect your oral health as they cause unusual growth of the gum tissue. Therefore, it is advisable to let your dentist know the kinds of drugs you are using, so he/she can determine whether they are affecting your oral health.
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco
Bad habits like smoking put you at a greater risk of developing gum disease. Smoking weakens your body’s ability to fight infections. As a result, your body will have a hard time resisting a gum infection once it starts to develop. Once your gum is damaged, continued smoking makes it impossible for the gum to heal. Even treatment for gum disease might not work for people who continue to smoke. To fight the disease, you might have to quit smoking and practice good oral habits alongside the medications prescribed by your dentist.
Poor Oral Habits
As mentioned earlier, gum disease usually affects people who fail to practice good oral hygiene. If practiced every day and as regularly as possible, some habits will help prevent oral infections and keep your gums and teeth healthy and strong. Some of these oral habits are:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice every day
- Flossing every day to remove food particles that could be stuck between teeth
- Visiting your dentist regularly for dental checkups and cleanings
If your family has a history of gum disease, you could be at risk of developing it. Some people are more susceptible to gum disease. When you dig deeper into your family history, you might realize that your parents or siblings have also had periodontal issues. Your genetic makeup could have the potential to make you more prone to periodontitis. The good news is that gum disease is preventable.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
At its onset, gum disease is painless. It could progress without pain until you start losing your teeth. However, other signs are usually present from the beginning, making it easy for you to know once you develop gingivitis. The best advice is not to ignore any sign that could indicate a problem with your mouth, teeth, or gums. More often than not, minor signs escalate into major oral issues so fast. Some of the signs of gum disease you must be on the lookout for include:
- Bleeding gums, especially during and after bruising your tooth — This could be indicated by a pink-tinged toothbrush.
- Reddish, swollen gums — Health gums are usually pinkish and firm
- Persistent bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
- Receding gums — A condition in which the margin of the tissue surrounding your teeth starts to wear away or pull back, exposing more of the teeth and sometimes the teeth’ roots. It could be indicated by teeth looking longer than normal.
- Pain while chewing or biting down
- Deep pockets start forming between your gums and teeth — Pus could start developing in those pockets.
- Loose and shifting teeth — When your teeth lose the supporting tissues, they loosen up.
- Changes in the appearance of your teeth — They will no longer fit together as they did before the onset of gum disease. As a result, you might experience difficulties while biting down or in the way that your partial dentures fit.
You might still have gum disease even if you haven’t noticed any of these symptoms. The infection might start affecting one tooth before proceeding to the others, making it difficult to spot. Regular visits to your dentist ensure that a proper diagnose is performed and treatment started right away. A skilled and experienced dentist will be better positioned to recognize gum disease and determine its progression.
Risk Factors and Complications
As mentioned above, gum disease could be a result of several factors. It puts so many people at risk of gingivitis and periodontitis. Some of the common risk factors include:
- Gingivitis — People who already have gingivitis are at a greater risk of developing periodontitis. If gingivitis is adequately managed, it might not progress into gum disease. If not, bacteria growth might intensify, leading to loss of teeth and other gum-related infections.
- Poor oral health habits — If you constantly ignore the good oral habits that dentists insist on, you are at a greater risk of gum disease. A few days of not brushing your teeth and/or flossing are enough to cause plaque on your gums.
- Use of tobacco — Smoking and chewing tobacco are some of the bad habits that put you at a greater risk of gum disease.
- Hormonal changes — Changes in your hormones, as it happens during pregnancy or menopause, could put you at a greater risk of periodontitis.
- Recreational drugs — Vaping or smoking marijuana have been seen to increase a person’s risk of gum disease.
- Obesity — Chronic diseases like obesity increases a person’s susceptibility to gum disease.
- Inadequate nutrition — Poor nutrition, including lack of enough vitamin C in the diet, could put you at a greater risk of gum disease.
- Genetics — If your parents or siblings are more prone to gum disease, you could also be at a greater risk of the same.
- Some medications, especially those that cause dry mouth or changes in your gum
- Health conditions that lower your immunity, like HIV/AIDS, leukemia, or cancer treatment — Also, diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, which lower your body’s immunity.
If not treated on time, gum disease could result in loss of teeth. The bacteria which causes periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through your gum tissues, affecting other body parts. For instance, gum disease is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, coronary artery disease, and diabetes, in which the body experiences problems controlling blood sugar.
For that reason, proper diagnosis and treatment are needed before the bacteria spreads even further. Contact your dentist as soon as you notice the very first signs of periodontitis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Gum Disease
Regular visits to the dentist’s office are recommended because that is where most dental issues are diagnosed and treated before they escalate. When you visit your dentist for a regular dental check, he/she will check for the following:
- Swelling, bleeding, and firmness of your gums — Dentists also check the gum’s pocket depth, which is the space between your teeth and gum. If the pocket is more profound, it means that the disease is more severe.
- Sensitivity, movement, and proper alignment of the teeth
- The jawbone, to detect breakdown of the bones surrounding your teeth
If your dentist establishes that you have gum disease, he/she will recommend the best treatment possible, depending on the severity of the infection.
Treatment for gum disease mainly aims to restore your healthy gums and ensure that the gums are properly attached to your teeth. Thus, your dentist will focus on reducing the swelling, depth of the gum pockets, and risk of further infection. The general idea would be to stop the progression of the disease. Therefore, the mode of treatment will be guided by the stage of the disease, your response to previous treatments, and your general wellbeing.
Fortunately, dentists have a wide range of treatment options for all cases. Your dentists might choose a non-surgical therapy to control bacteria growth or surgery to restore the lost supportive tissues. Here are some of the standard treatment options for gum disease:
If you haven’t lost much to gum disease, your dentist will recommend a treatment option that may not necessarily involve surgery. Some of the treatment options available for you under this category are:
Professional Dental Cleaning
This mode of treatment involves the removal of tartar or plaque by your dentist or dental hygienist. Tartar is plaque that builds up and hardens on the surface of your tooth. It can only be removed through professional dental cleaning. Your dentist will clean from below and above the gum line of all your teeth.
Your dentist will recommend professional cleaning if he/she has seen signs of gum disease during your regular dental checkup. You might be required to undergo the cleaning twice a year to ensure that the buildup is completely gone.
However, if you have active periodontitis, this mode of treatment may not be suitable. Professional cleaning is only a preventive measure that can only stop the disease’s development.
Root Planing and Scaling
This is a more intense form of professional dental cleaning done under local anesthesia. During this deep cleaning, your dentist scrapes away tartar and plaque from below and above your gum line. Any rough spot on your tooth’s root is also made smooth through planing. Smoothening those rough spots remove the bacteria and leave the surface clean for your gums to reattach to your teeth.
This mode of treatment is recommended if your dentist determines that you have tartar and plaque under your gums.
Treatment for extreme cases of gum disease might require you to go through surgery to restore some of the lost tissues and ensure that your gums and teeth are healthy and strong once more. Some of the common surgical treatments for gum disease that your dentist could recommend are:
This is a surgical procedure to reduce the depth of your gum pockets. It involves lifting the gums back and removing the tartar. If necessary, irregular surfaces of your damaged bone are smoothed to reduce the chances of bacteria growth. Once the cleaning is completed, your dentist then places the gum back to allow the tissues to fit snugly around the teeth.
This mode of treatment is recommended if gum disease had already created deeper spaces between your gums and teeth. Treatment entails reducing the depth and size of those spaces, thereby decreasing areas where harmful bacteria could grow. It helps lower your chances of suffering severe health problems associated with gum disease.
The surgical procedure involves using bits of your bone, donated bone, or synthetic bone to replace the bone destroyed by gum disease. The bone fragments form a platform for the regrowth of the lost bone, which eventually restores the stability of your teeth.
Technological advancements have made this possible. For instance, tissue engineering is how your body could be technologically encouraged to regenerate tissue and bone faster.
Soft Tissue Grafts
Like bone graft, soft-tissue grafting is a surgical procedure aimed at reinforcing thin gums or fills in areas where gums have receded due to gum disease. Grafted tissues could be taken from the roof of your mouth, then stitched in place to add tissue to the affected area.
Guided Regeneration of Tissues
This surgical procedure is recommended if the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed by gum disease. The procedure aims to stimulate gum tissue and bone growth and is done in combination with flap surgery. Your dentist will insert a small mesh-like fabric between your gum tissue and bone. The fabric will keep gum tissues from growing in areas where the bone should be. It allows the bone and connective tissues to grow again to offer better support to your teeth.
This surgical procedure involves smoothening the shallow craters created in the bone due to moderate or advanced bone loss. After flap surgery, your dentist can reshape the bone surrounding your teeth to reduce those craters. The idea is to make it even harder for the harmful bacteria to regrow.
Prevention of Gum Disease
The good news is that gum disease is preventable. You can reverse gingivitis and prevent periodontitis from worsening. Here are some valuable tips that could help you achieve this:
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning, at least twice a year if you have gum disease.
- Brush your teeth twice every day, preferably in the morning and before bedtime, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Your toothbrush must be replaced every three months.
- Floss every day to remove any food particles that could be stuck between your teeth. Flossing reaches those areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush, ensuring that all remaining food particles are cleaned out.
- Rinse your mouth every day using an antibacterial mouthwash to fight bad breath and plaque
- Quit smoking if you are already in the habit. If not, avoid using any tobacco-related product.
- Maintain a balanced diet, comprising plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid junk foods that are high in sugar and starch.
Find Help With Gum Disease Near Me
Gum disease is a severe threat to your oral health and general wellbeing. That is why you need to have it treated as soon as you notice it. If you’re experiencing some of the signs of gum disease in Lomita, CA, like bleeding and swelling gums after brushing, quickly visit a dentist’s office. You need proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent the progression of harmful bacteria and restore your oral health. At Washington Dental, our dentists are highly trained and experienced in handling all stages of gum disease. You can trust us to provide proper diagnosis and treatment, even to the most advanced gum disease. Contact us at 310-326-5183 and let us take care of your oral health.