Gum Disease: What Are the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment?

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is an infection of the gum tissues in your mouth. The primary cause of periodontal disease is poor dental hygiene that causes the buildup of a hard, sticky film of bacteria on the teeth called plaque. In advanced stages, this can lead to painful chewing problems, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an inflammatory condition of the gum and periodontal tissue surrounding the teeth. The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which means inflammation of gums. 

Other than poor dental hygiene and tartar buildup, factors such as tobacco use, certain medications, clenching or grinding of your teeth, and genetics can also play an important role in developing gum disease.

Types of Gum Disease

There are mainly two stages or types of gum disease. 

Gingivitis - The initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it often goes undetected. If diagnosed at this stage, the condition is usually reversible.

Periodontitis - When gingivitis is left untreated, it leads to the next stage of gum disease called periodontitis. In this stage, the patient experiences chronic gum inflammation and loss of bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately leading to tooth loss.

Causes of Gum Disease

The primary cause of gum disease is plaque and tartar, which is formed when bacteria in our mouth react with mucus and food debris. Plaque is sticky, and when not removed by regular brushing and flossing, they can harden and form tartar on the teeth. Tartar cannot be cleaned by brushing, and you will have to visit a professional dental hygienist to remove it. 

Risk factors for gum disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Diabetes
  • Certain illnesses like AIDS and their medications 
  • Genetics
  • The use of medicines that restrict the flow of saliva in our mouth 
  • Cavities that irritate your gums 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Some of the main symptoms of gum disease are:

  • Persistent bad breath 
  • Red, swollen, and receding gums
  • Bleeding of gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Teeth sensitivity

Treatment and Prevention of Gum Disease

The treatment for periodontal disease largely depends on the type of disease. Some of the treatment options are:

  • Plaque and calculus removal by your dental hygienist.
  • Frequent cleanings and use of prescribed medications like chlorhexidine gluconate mouth rinse help kill bacteria in your mouth.
  • In some cases, surgery may be required to stop the progression of gum disease. If the disease has progressed to an advanced stage, surgery will help to replace the bone that was lost due to the disease.

The best way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay is to practice proper brushing and flossing regularly. It is also essential to visit your dentist for plaque and calculus removal and to maintain good oral health. If you are concerned about your gum health, call our dentist in Des Moines today and schedule an appointment with us. 

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