There’s nothing as captivating as a beautiful smile. Yet when a person’s teeth have been neglected due to poor dental hygiene and lack of adequate dental care, that bright smile can be dimmed. Not only can the teeth become yellowed and unhealthy looking, but the gums themselves can become infected, which can lead to an array of serious health problems, including the loss of teeth.
The Stages of Gum Disease
When a person’s gums become red, sore, bleeding and swollen, they are said to have “Gingivitis,” which is a mild form of gum disease. Gum disease can progress from mild (gingivitis) to more severe (periodontitis) to very severe (advanced periodontitis).
Gum disease happens when a person fails to brush and floss their teeth on a daily basis, leading to a buildup of bacteria, called plaque. These bacteria cause inflammation of the gums, and a recession of the gums away from the teeth. If gum disease is not treated by a dentist or a periodontist, the condition can become severe, which can lead to an infection in the areas that support the teeth, as well as to the jaws. Eventually, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
Risk Factors Associated with Gum Disease
Besides the danger of losing teeth from gum disease, medical researchers now believe that other serious health problems could be associated with poor gum health, including heart disease, strokes, premature births (in the case of a pregnant mother having gum disease) diabetes and respiratory disease. All of this points to the importance of practicing good dental hygiene on a regular basis.
Other Causes of Gum Disease
Gum disease can also be brought on, or worsened, by other factors, including poor nutrition and other diseases like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, which can increase the incidence of inflammation. Some medicines, like certain drugs prescribed for depression or heart disease, can also worsen gum disease.
Treatment for Serious Gum Disease
Non-surgical techniques to treat gum disease include the scaling off of plaque above and below the tooth root line, and smoothing out the tooth root, by planing. This cleaning will allow the gums a better surface to adhere back onto the teeth, after treatment.
If surgery for the gums is required, a flap surgery and pocket reduction can be done, which takes down the area of space that lies in between the actual gum and the tooth. Bone grafts and soft tissue grafts can also be done in more serious cases when the tissue surrounding the teeth is not healthy enough to be treated non-surgically.
Prevention of Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good hygiene including flossing on a daily basis. You should also see a dentist for regular cleanings and checkups to remove plaque from the teeth and to screen for pockets around the teeth and recession of the gums.
Good hygiene is absolutely worth the time it takes!