The Signs and Causes of Gum Disease

July 3, 2012 — by Stephen Lipman
Tags: Gum Disease Restorative Dentistry

Windsor PeriodonticsGum disease afflicts many Americans today, despite widespread access to oral care. Many people probably don't even realize they have gum disease. The early stages of gum disease can be difficult to notice, but the biggest signal is gums that easily bleed while brushing. Untreated gum disease can result is far worse effects, including tooth loss and bone damage. Windsor cosmetic dentist Stephen D. Lipman offers the latest procedures to treat gum disease and repair the damage the condition causes.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums that is divided into two stages. The first stage is the early, less severe stage of gum disease termed gingivitis. With gingivitis, the infection is contained to the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. The next stage, periodontitis, is the advanced stage of gum disease. Periodontitis is more severe because the gum infection has spread to the tissue and bone beneath the gum line. This causes the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. Plaque and debris settle into these pockets, causing further infection and the pockets to deepen. This process damages the bone and gum tissue, pulling them further and further away from the teeth; eventually the teeth loosen and fall out. 

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?

The different stages of gum disease each have their own signs and symptoms. Here is a breakdown of the signs of gingivitis and periodontitis:

Gingivitis

  • Gums bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums are tender
  • Gums are swollen
  • Red gums
  • Bad breath

Periodontitis

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen, tender gums that bleed easily
  • Receding gums
  • Pus coming from gums
  • Loose teeth

What Causes Gum Disease?

The main cause of gum disease is plaque and tartar buildup. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque; plaque is a combination of food remnants, saliva, bacteria, and acid and toxins released from the bacteria. The toxins are responsible for irritating the gums and breaking down tissue. Besides plaque and tartar, gum disease can be caused from one or more of the following:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Family History
  • Illnesses afflicting the immune system
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Certain medications

How Is Gum Disease Treated?

Once gum disease has developed, your dentist will determine the proper treatment for the damage caused by your gum disease. Some of the most common treatments for gum disease offered at our Windsor restorative dentistry practice are:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce gum infection by killing the bacteria.
  • Root planing and scaling: The teeth are cleaned deeply, down to the roots, with root planing and scaling.
  • Gingivectomy: Diseased gum tissue may need to be removed if root planing and scaling isn't effective. This procedure is called a gingivectomy.
  • Flap procedure: With severe gum disease, a flap procedure may be necessary. A flap procedure is when the gum is cut, creating a flap, to clean the root and repair damaged bone. Once the root is clean and the bone repaired the flap of gum is replaced and stitched back.

Don't let your gum disease go untreated. Contact Dr. Lipman today for all of your periodontics needs.