Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, refers to an infection of the tissues and bones that support the teeth. The two stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontis. Gingivitis is mild, involving only the gums. Periodontis, on the other hand, is gum disease at an advanced stage, meaning it has spread to below the gums, possibly damaging tissue and bone.
What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?
Gum disease is basically caused by plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that emit toxins in the mouth. Without proper removal of plaque on a regular basis, the gums become extremely irritated and gum tissue begins to break down. People who have poor dental hygiene habits and those who smoke or chew tobacco are particularly at risk for gum disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gums should be naturally pink in color; they should also not bleed easily. Someone with mild gum disease will thus exhibit the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed easily during brushing/flossing
- Gums that appear red
- Gums that are swollen, sensitive, and tender
The worse the state of gum disease, the more pronounced the symptoms. Someone with advanced gum disease will exhibit the above symptoms in addition to the following:
- Chronic bad breath
- Gums that seem to pull away from teeth
- A change in bite
- Loose teeth
- Pus in the gums
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The earlier that gum disease is treated, the better. The goal is to prevent the damaging of bone and tissue, eliminate infection, and avoid tooth loss.
Those with mild gum disease are advised to:
- Avoid using tobacco
- Brush twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Use antiseptic or antibacterial mouthwash
Once you have been treated for gum disease, you will need to practice the above in order to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.
Advanced gum disease is treated by:
- Removing plague and tartar from above and below the gum line during a dental cleaning, called root planing and scaling
- Prescribing or administering a form of antibiotics
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to control infection and treat extensive damage in severe cases. Surgery may involve the removal and reshaping of loose gums, the repair of damaged bones, cleaning the root of a tooth or teeth, or the extraction of an extremely damaged tooth or teeth. For our patients in Long Island, dental crowns may be deemed necessary.
Some people who have been treated for severe gum disease are advised by our Long Island cosmetic dentist to schedule appointments for checkups and cleanings as often as three or four times a year. Those who have had severe gum disease in the past may also be advised to brush their teeth after every meal.
Learn More about Gum Disease Treatment
Do you think you might have gum disease? Either way, we want to help you achieve your brightest and healthiest smile. To schedule a consultation and learn more about the treatments offered at Smiles on Broadway, please contact our Long Island dental center.