Gum Disease 101

older-woman-on-couchGum disease is one of the most common oral health problems, so it is important to know more about it. Keep reading to learn more:

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is also sometimes referred to as gingivitis or periodontal disease, depending on the severity of your condition. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that damages your gums. In early stages, it causes irritation and pain. In later stages, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth leaving you even more vulnerable to infection. It can eventually lead to tooth decay or complete tooth loss.

Signs of gum disease include:

  • Sore or sensitive gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Red, inflamed gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tooth pain
  • Receding gums or teeth that look long
  • Sensitive teeth

How is gum disease prevented?

In most cases, gum disease can be prevented by simple oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal. Brush for at least two minutes while moving the brush in small circles.
  • Floss every single day in between every single tooth.
  • Use a mouthwash that is designed to kill bacteria
  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings. These cleanings are more thorough than anything you could do at home. Regular checkups also make it easier for your dentist to catch gum disease in the early stages when it is quite treatable.

People who are pregnant, diabetic, or undergoing cancer treatments may be extra prone to gum disease, so they should take extra precautions and visit the dentist and doctor regularly.

How is gum disease treated?

In early stages, gum disease can be treated with excellent oral hygiene, a dental cleaning, and in some cases, medication.

Scaling and root planing are techniques that are used to treat gum disease at an advanced stage. These techniques are used to clean the space in between the teeth and the gums. These techniques go all the way down to the roots of the teeth.

Tooth scaling is used to remove plaque and tartar that have built up on the teeth and below the gum line. Planing is used to smooth the surface of the root.

To learn more about preventing and treating gum disease, contact Dr. O’Brien.

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