Brushing, flossing, and other great oral habits are often portrayed as a way to prevent cavities. Cavities being the most spoken about the side effects of poor dental hygiene, stick with people when they remember visiting their family dentist as a child. However, one of the more prevalent diseases that hurt oral health doesn’t necessarily affect the teeth. The gums play a vital role in a person’s oral health, protecting the roots from damage, providing internal support for the teeth, and forms a seal that prevents food from getting lodged near the jawbone. However, when those tissues become infected, it can indicate more serious issues that take more treatment to heal.
What Dentists Know About Gum Disease
Over 47% of Americans over 30 years old suffer from some form of periodontal disease. That’s a staggering percentage, which presents many problems for people struggling to maintain healthy teeth. Many studies often attempt to correlate this disease with external genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking, diet, hormonal changes, and medications. When it comes to gum disease, dentists can identify it through these factors:
- Origins: Its causes often result from the collection of bacteria that forms along the gums. Plaque that forms along the gums and teeth often consists of multiple types of bacteria. These types form a sticky, colorless film that builds up over time, causes infections along the gums, and wears down at the enamel.
- Symptoms: For most people, many of the symptoms of gum disease are obvious, which include bleeding from the gums, redness, puffiness, and bad breath. However, in the advanced stages of this disease, pockets can form along with the teeth, causing the gums to separate from the teeth to create more infection. Tooth sensitivity and tooth decay also coincide with this disease due to bacteria’s presence and the enamel.
- Risk Factors: Gum disease often indicate other serious health problems, as this disease is seen in those with diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. This connection occurs because the gums themselves are directly connected to many of the blood vessels found throughout the body and how those with obesity or similar conditions may simultaneously experience gum disease and poor health.
How Dentists Treat Gingivitis and Gum Disease
Depending on the severity of the condition, dentists and periodontists have various treatments to help remove the bacteria and get their patients’ smiles back to health. These techniques, such as professional cleanings, scaling and root planings, and pocket reduction surgery, can help reverse the effects of gum disease by removing the bacteria, heal the infected gums, and fix many of the cosmetic problems that arise from this condition. Many advanced versions of these treatments, such as bone grafts, bone surgery, and guided tissue regeneration, can also help people who suffer from advanced periodontal disease get treatment. However, prevention tactics for plaque development are still being discovered and need more research to prevent gum disease.