Conservative estimates suggest that about 80 percent of adults in this country have some level of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. In many cases, people don’t realize they have a problem because the initial symptoms are so mild. Without treatment gum disease can lead to pain, bone degeneration, and tooth loss.
What is gum disease?
An infection of the gums surrounding the teeth, periodontal disease is caused by plaque and bacteria along the gum line. Gum disease is actually the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which presents as swollen, bleeding gums. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, pockets form and the gums separate from the teeth.
What are some signs of gum disease?
Often, gum disease begins with red, swollen gums. You may also experience bleeding when you brush. Other symptoms include receding gums, pain, and chronic bad breath.
Are there certain risk factors for gum disease?
One of the main causes of periodontal disease is poor hygiene. Brushing and flossing regularly, as well as routine checkups, can go a long way to preventing gum disease. Certain lifestyle choices, like tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as genetics and medication side effects can make you more susceptible to gum disease.
How do you treat gum disease?
If you have gingivitis, your dentist will likely recommend a thorough cleaning and improved home habits. For more advanced gum disease, you may need scaling and root planing, which removes the infection and helps promote healthy gum tissue.