Gum (or periodontal) diseases

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is chronic inflammation or infection of the gum and bone that surround and support the teeth. About 75% of adult population above age 35 years have different levels of gum disease. It is the major cause of tooth loss among adults. Your personal level of oral hygiene directly affects the health of your gums. Plaque is the primary reason for gum disease. Plaque if not removed gets mineralized and becomes tartar or calculus. Plaque and calculus harbor bacteria which cause or promote gum disease.Gum diseases are caused by plaque and tartar.


Signs of Gum Diseases

The following two images show healthy gums versus inflamed gums

  • Red, soft, puffy or swollen gums
  • Gums bleeding during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that look longer caused by gum recession
  • Gums separating, or pulling away, from teeth
  • Teeth shifting or loosing
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit when biting
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in mouth
  • Pus coming from between the teeth and gums

Any of the above might indicate gum disease.


Different stages in gum diseases

1. Healthy Symptoms: Gums have pink healthy color; gum line holds teeth tightly; no bleeding Treatment: Keep your gum healthy by continuously taking good care of oral hygiene. Proper brushing and flossing are very important daily care


2. Gingivitis Symptoms: Gums between teeth may look reddish or bluish in color; gums bleed easily during brushing, flossing, or upon dental probing; gums are inflamed and sensitive to touch; possible bad breath and bad taste; no affection of bone and fibers supporting teeth Treatment : The inflammation can be stopped by proper teeth brushing, flossing and other oral hygiene cares to remove plaque and food debris


3. Early Periodontitis Symptoms : Gums may begin to pull away from the teeth to cause minor loss of attachment or pocket development (3-4mm); inflammation of fiber tissue; slightly loss of bone; bleeding, puffiness and inflammation more pronounced; bad breath and bad taste; no teeth shift Treatment : Professional teeth cleaning, scaling and root planning done by hygienist or dentist may stop the inflammation getting worse.


4. Moderate Periodontitis Symptoms : Gum boils or abscesses may develop; teeth look longer as gums begin to recede; moderate loss of attachment and/or moderate to deep pocket formation (4-6mm); 30-50% loss of bone support; bad breath and bad taste; front teeth may begin to drift, showing spaces Treatment : Proper treatment or surgery needed to save the teeth.


5. Advanced Periodontitis Symptoms : Teeth may become mobile or loose; bad breath, bad taste are constant; roots may be exposed and are sensitive to hot and cold; severe pocket depth (excess of 6mm) or significant gum recession; severe loss of attachment, >50% loss of bone support Treatment : If the involved teeth can not be saved, they need to be removed to stop further damage.

Gum disease is reversible Gum disease is caused by bacteria, so it can recur. Daily oral hygiene care and regular dental checkups are very important to reduce gum disease returning.


Prevention

Periodontal diseases are accumulated by time. Daily oral hygiene maintenance is the most important way for periodontal diseases prevention. If you do not brush and floss your teeth, but only let your hygienist do your oral hygiene care, you will still get periodontal diseases. Your hygienist only sees you every three or six months, but your mouth needs cleaning everyday.


In order to keep dental hygiene, you should do the following:

  • Brush teeth properly and regularly
  • Floss properly at least one time per day
  • Use mouth rinse to kill bacteria
  • See your dental hygienist for oral hygiene maintenance regularly. The frequency for visits is based on individual case.
  • Healthy diet to keep good nutrition, which affects gums health and immune system response.
  • No smoking or using other tobacco products.
  • Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. Pressure on the teeth supporting bone and fibers can make existing gum disease worse.

Signs of infection

Over 40% of all grown-ups have experienced bleeding in gums. Therefore most people think it is normal. As a matter of fact, it is not, and should be taken as a sign of an infection called gingivitis. Your gums are constantly under attack from bacteria that accumulate around your gum line. A major source is plaque, which holds the colonies of bacteria. Plaque can cause bleeding and swelling. Occasional bleeding is also a sign of gingivitis. The space between tooth and gum is called gingival pocket. When gums are healthy, gingival pockets are less than 3mm. But when gum has infection, gingival pockets will become deeper to form periodontal pockets. When periodontal pockets are formed, the infection becomes severe