The oral cavity is exposed to bacteria, so dental and oral diseases are familiar to many. The most common problem is tooth decay, but gum diseases in adults are second in line. Even if you take good care of your teeth, you cannot be 100% protected from possible diseases. Often, people don’t think about their gums and don’t visit the dentist, even if mild symptoms appear. However, 50% of tooth loss is caused by gum diseases. So, this part of the body should be treated more carefully. Timely prevention and gum treatment will help you maintain your teeth and oral health.
Gum disease is a term that includes a range of inflammatory processes of varying severity. An early-stage inflammation that affects only the superficial tissues near the tooth is called gingivitis. Left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which is an inflammation of the deeper tissues around the tooth’s root. Let’s see why these diseases occur, what their symptoms are, and how to treat them.
What is Gingivitis? Causes and Symptoms
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. With gingivitis, the tissues around the tooth become inflamed. The causes of this illness can be poor oral hygiene, heredity, smoking, eating a lot of sugary foods, taking pills that cause dry mouth, and others. Often, pregnant women are prone to gingivitis due to hormonal changes.
The principle of development of gingivitis is as follows. Small pieces of food are trapped in the space between teeth and gums and cause bacteria to grow. Then, plaque forms, and the teeth change color. The same microorganisms irritate the gum tissue. Gingivitis does not affect the internal tissues of the tooth and does not destroy it. However, if not treated promptly, it can develop into periodontitis. The early-stage gum disease is usually accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Redness of the gums.
- Gum swelling.
- Pain in the gums when eating or brushing your teeth.
- Bleeding gums.
- Bad breath that does not go even for a few days.
Treating gum disease at an early stage is normally quick and easy. The dentist performs a professional cleaning of the teeth and removes plaque and food particles. Once it is done, the gums can clear the inflammation on their own. The doctor may suggest methods aimed at preventing the recurrence of gingivitis.
What is Periodontitis? Causes and Symptoms
Periodontitis is an oral cavity disease that can destroy the tissues surrounding the teeth. Almost always, this problem is the result of gingivitis not being cured in time. Under the influence of pathogens in the human mouth, plaque and tartar (or calculus) are formed, and then, the periodontal fibers are destroyed. The periodontium holds the tooth and bone together, as well as the bone tissue around the tooth. As a result of the destruction of the tissues surrounding the tooth, the formation of pockets (gaps between the root of the tooth and the gum) occurs. Periodontal pockets can fill with pus over time, further damaging the tooth. The disease has all the signs of gingivitis and a few extra symptoms:
- Loosening of teeth.
- Exposure of the necks of the tooth.
- Accumulation of food particles in the gum pockets.
Treatment of gums with periodontitis is more complex and lengthy. In the early stages, professional teeth cleaning, and removal of plaque and tartar are effective. For many people with periodontitis, this is the only treatment needed. Treatment to strengthen gums may be offered.
Quite frequently, in the treatment of gums with periodontitis, curettage is performed. This is a procedure for removing food particles accumulated in the gum pockets. Curettage can be either closed (for cleaning pockets up to 5 millimeters deep) or open (the gingival flap is expanded to achieve more depth).
Periodontitis can have serious complications. First, the observed looseness of the teeth may lead to the need for their extraction in the future. Secondly, the mobility of teeth can cause their displacement. They can tilt in different directions due to their looseness. This, in turn, contributes to the curvature of the bite and discomfort when chewing. These are not the only consequences of untreated periodontitis:
- Advanced periodontal disease can become chronic. The patient needs to constantly monitor it and take courses of therapy.
- The spread of infection in the oral cavity. The area of the lesion increases, and it affects adjacent healthy teeth, jaw bone, and the entire surface of the mucous membranes.
- Bone destruction: it decreases in volume, which creates restrictions for implantation, which may be needed if periodontitis provoked tooth loss.
- Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (gastritis, peptic ulcer, problems with digestion of food). Infection in the mouth can be passed to the stomach by swallowing saliva.
- The risk of kidney failure and diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems increases.
There are a few things you can do to avoid gum diseases and keep your teeth healthy for years to come. Here are the main rules:
- Complete and regular oral hygiene is extremely important.
- To brush your teeth, you need to use toothpaste with fluoride and medicinal herbs. A toothbrush should be with soft or medium-hard bristles.
- It is important to stop eating sweets, smoking, and eating too hot and too cold food.
- It is necessary to use dental floss after each meal, carefully cleaning tooth enamel from plaque.
- Use mouthwash to get rid of bacteria that may be left on your teeth after brushing.
- Regular professional teeth cleaning and preventive dental check-ups.
According to recent studies, nearly half of the US population over the age of 30 has some form of gum disease. These statistics show our vulnerability and the need for timely prevention. Treatment of periodontitis in the later stages is more complex and expensive. Moreover, the consequences of a late visit to the dentist can be deplorable, up to tooth loss. Timely gum treatment allows you to cope with the initial stages of the disease quickly and continue to enjoy the comfort and oral health.