Do you often experience intractable pain in the vicinity of your teeth? This might be due to gum disease or gingivitis. Gums play an important role in supporting your dentition and provide a firm base. They also act as a shield protecting the underlying layers and roots of your teeth from getting exposed to the outside. If there is any abnormality in the gums, it will significantly impact your oral health.
Gum disease occurs primarily due to bacterial infection, and if left untreated, it may progress extensively and cause severe life-threatening conditions!
Early detection and intervention can be beneficial in saving you from the possible dreaded outcomes.
Are Gingivitis and Periodontitis the same thing?
Gingivitis and Periodontitis both refer to the inflammation of gums. However, gingivitis is the milder form of the disease. If left untreated, it progresses to a more severe form, which is periodontitis.
Gingivitis: The gums are red, swollen, and tender to touch, and bleed while brushing in this stage. The bacteria are accumulated in the plaque and keep on multiplying and damaging the oral structures. However, there is no gross structural derangement, and the teeth are held firmly in their sockets.
Periodontitis: If gingivitis is left untreated, its sequelae is the more severe disease in the form of periodontitis. The is apparent damage to the structural framework of the oral cavity. The teeth become loosened from the cavity, and the gum line starts receding. Small pockets are formed beneath the gums, and the infection may spread into the systemic circulation and cause life-threatening complications. There is an irreversible bone loss that can only be corrected by grafting.
How to know if you have gum disease?
Gum disease may keep on progressing without any evident signs or symptoms. However, most of the time, there are a few warning signs that drive your attention towards the gums’ abnormality.
- Bleeding gums: Gums may either bleed spontaneously or while brushing your teeth. Any event that causes friction against the gums may cause them to bleed. This is one of the early signs of gum disease or infection. Bleeding may also occur due to faulty technique of brushing, but if it happens persistently, gum disease should be suspected. Gums bleed due to the buildup of the debris called tartar, which damages the gums and makes them prone to bleed while brushing teeth.
- Inflamed gums: They are red, swollen, and extremely tender to touch. They cause extreme discomfort and are one of the main reasons why patients with gum disease first visit the dentist. Inflamed gums make eating and speaking a challenge because of the harrowing pain. It is also a reliable predictor of gum disease, which may be gingivitis or periodontitis, depending on the severity.
- Bad breath: Halitosis or bad breath indicates an infective process going on in the mouth. The buildup of plaque and tartar hosts plenty of bacteria, which keep on multiplying and damaging the structures in your mouth. The toxins released during the process further damage and irritate the gums, causing severe gum disease.
- Receding gum line: The bacterial infection distorts the stability of the gums by damaging the supporting tissue and bone, which holds them in place. This structural damage causes the gums to be pulled up, exposing the underlying roots of the teeth. Gum recession makes even more space for the bacteria to accumulate, and the infection keeps on aggravating.
- Loose teeth: The structural damage to the gums makes the entire framework weak, and this leads to loose teeth. They become crooked and are shifted from their original place, leading to bite abnormalities, overcrowding, and the prostheses such as dentures also become loose.
- Sensitivity: Gum disease leads to recession of gums, which exposes the roots of the teeth to the outside. The nerve endings are also exposed, and this makes them sensitive to hot and cold food items. You experience a sudden tingling sensation on the intake of any of these. It is known as tooth sensitivity.
If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your dentist for evaluation and treatment. However, gum disease may be asymptomatic, and routine dental checkups will help your dentist identify the silent gum disease. It may also affect only a specific portion of the gums, such as near the molars. An experienced dentist or periodontist will help you in this case. Looking for a periodontist in High Wycombe? Visit Conway House.
How is Gum disease managed?
DIAGNOSIS: Your dentist will first assess the severity and extent of the disease. A thorough history of present illness and evaluation will help in reaching the diagnosis and planning the management. Imaging in the form of X-rays and CT may be required for subtle details.
TREATMENT: The primary aim of treatment is to promote good oral health, clear the infection, and prevent the spread of infection. Further, extensive treatment may be done for reconstruction.
- Medical management: Antibiotics are given to clear the infection. This is helpful only in mild cases.
- Non-surgical Management: It includes professional dental cleaning to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar. Your dentist does the cleaning on every routine checkup. It is recommended that you should get a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year to prevent gum disease. Scaling is another form of deep cleaning, done under local anesthesia. It involves scraping the tartar off the gums and planning (smoothening) of tooth roots to promote reattachment of the gums to the teeth.
- Surgical management: These are done to correct the structural damage that has occurred. Pocket reduction surgery is done by cleaning the tartar from beneath the gums and promoting reattachment. Bone grafts may be used to correct the bone loss that has occurred.
In most patients, medical and non-surgical management is sufficient to get rid of the gum disease. Surgical management is required where there is a high chance of recurrence or the damage is very extensive.
Gum disease can be prevented if a strict oral hygiene routine is followed. Your dentist will help you and assist you in adopting the best oral hygiene practices and will guide you on the path to good oral health. If you are looking for an experienced dentist in High Wycombe, Conway House Dental Practice is the perfect place you need to visit. Along with advanced dental facilities and skilled staff, we have a homely and relaxing environment. Give us a call on 01494526578, and one of our friendly receptionists will be there to provide you with any assistance.