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If you are experiencing loose teeth, bleeding gums when brushing, or separating teeth, it is likely you have gum disease and need to address it immediately. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, and that’s the only stage that is reversible. Our dentist in South Bend will examine your gums to ensure they are healthy and able to support your teeth for years to come.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by growth of germs called bacteria, that collect on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in plaque, the sticky, clear substance your mouth produces.
The bacteria in plaque feed on sugars in the drinks you consume and the foods you eat. The toxins formed by that bacteria irritate your gums, causing them to swell and bleed easily when brushed.
Your healthy smile includes both healthy teeth and healthy gums. The bacteria from your food and drink can attack the enamel of your teeth and also attack the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place.
Half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. The root word “peri” means around and “dontic” means tooth; periodontal disease is just another way of saying gum disease.
There are several factors that can lead to periodontal disease, including:
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor Dental Hygiene
- Poor nutrition
- Poor tooth alignment
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
What Are Common Signs of Periodontal Disease?
Many times, periodontal disease can start out as a painless infection with few symptoms. As it advances, though, you will have one or more of these signs of periodontal disease:
- Red, puffy, or bleeding gums
- Gum recession
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pus around the teeth
If you have any of these symptoms of gum disease, please call the office nearest you for an appointment.
What Are the Types of Gum Disease?
Did you know that the first stage of gum disease is gingivitis? It is the only stage that our dentist and periodontist can reverse with treatment and your good dental hygiene at home.
If the gingivitis goes treated, it can lead to periodontitis. As the disease progresses, it will break down the tissues and bones that support your teeth, causing the gums to separate from the teeth. These are called “pockets.” More bacteria can gather in those pockets, which leads to further destruction of the gum tissue and bone.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. It has also been linked to other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Many people don’t realize that a regular teeth cleaning, called a prophylaxis, only polishes your teeth above the gum line. To treat the bacteria that congregates below the gum line, our periodontist or hygienist in South Bend will use a technique called scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar from periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacteria. If needed, an antibiotic can be applied to treat the gum infection.
If you have gum disease, you may require more frequent teeth cleanings and periodontal maintenance to treat the infected areas and keep the gum disease from advancing. Gum disease is systemic, so it’s only reversible when it’s caught in the gingivitis stage.
If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, already, by periodontal disease, our dentist or a specialist may recommend a regenerative procedure like a bone graft, tissue graft, or tissue-stimulating proteins to regenerate bone and tissue.
What Can I Do at Home to Prevent Gum Disease?
The most effective way to prevent gum disease is to have professional cleanings at least twice a year – more if you require periodontal maintenance. Also, proper at-home oral hygiene is a must. Brushing your teeth after each meal, then flossing at least once a day will prevent tartar build-up on your teeth and below your gum line.