Have you noticed a change in your gums recently? Do they look red and tender or bleed when you eat hard or crunchy foods? Whenever you start to notice anything different about the way your gums look or feel, there’s a good chance you’re seeing symptoms of gum disease.
An important part of the services we provide at our Oak Ridge dental office is education about the dangers of gum disease. Great dental health is not difficult, but it does require some effort on your part. We can’t say it often enough – brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings are the only way you can hope to avoid serious dental problems.
How Gum Disease Starts
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that is continually developing on the surface of your teeth. Whatever food and beverages you consume during the day contribute to plaque development.
When plaque is not removed during routine oral hygiene, it remains on your teeth and hardens into a substance called tartar or calculus. Tartar cannot be removed with at-home oral hygiene, and only a trained dental hygienist can remove it with special instruments.
The Two Stages of Gum Disease
Commonly referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is an infection that attacks your gum tissue. This infection is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth. There are two stages of gum disease:
Stage One: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. As periodontal infection starts to work its way into your gums, you may notice tender, swollen, or bleeding gums. However, the symptoms of gingivitis may be so mild that they’re not apparent. Gingivitis is reversible if it is detected and treated early.
Stage Two: Periodontitis
Periodontitis occurs when the infection in your gums migrates to your teeth, bones, and the connective tissue that holds your teeth in place. As the gum and bone separate from your teeth, pockets form between the teeth and gums. These pockets attract bacteria and become infected, leading to loss of bone and tissue, loosening of the teeth, and even potential tooth loss.
Treating Gum Disease
During every regular cleaning, our hygienist carefully examines your teeth for signs of gum disease. If we find signs of infection, a thorough cleaning may be all that’s needed.
For more advanced stages of gum disease, our hygienist will recommend non-surgical treatment referred to as scaling and root planing. This is a process where the surface of the tooth is smoothed to allow gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.
We’ll also arrange periodic checkups so we can monitor the health of your teeth and take the necessary steps to help you avoid a reoccurrence of gum disease. Our hygienist will also talk to you about the proper way to brush and floss, as well as other steps you can take to protect your oral health in the future.
It’s easy to see that gum disease is a serious problem that can lead to a number of even more serious oral health issues. By maintaining regular dental exams and cleanings, you dramatically increase your odds of keeping gum disease at bay.
Please call The Dental Office of J. Larry Brewer to arrange your next appointment.