As a child, you may have disliked the constant reminders from mom and dad to brush your teeth before bed, but as we get older, we realize more and more how beneficial healthy oral hygiene is to the longevity of our pearly whites, and just how right mom and dad were.
With each meal, we invite sugars and starches to engage with the natural bacteria that exists within our mouths. This combination of bacteria is the sticky film we all know as plaque. When we brush our teeth, we’re cleaning the plaque from our teeth which in turn minimizes the likelihood of developing cavities and gum disease.
What’s the difference between a cavity and gum disease? A cavity is the result of tooth decay, and gum disease is when there’s an infection in the tissues that surround and support our teeth. The term gum disease can sound pretty scary to some, but it’s actually a condition that can be very subtle and easily treatable in its early stages. Let’s review the three stages of gum disease and their side effects.
This is the earliest stage of gum disease, and is best defined as inflammation of the gums. If you’re experiencing gum line inflammation, that may be a strong indicator that there is plaque buildup within the actual gums. A side effect to gingivitis (if inflammation is not prominent) is bleeding of the gums while brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is nothing to be too shook up about if caught in early stages, as the tissue and bone have yet to be affected.
If gingivitis goes untreated the infection can begin to progress into a more moderate case. Periodontitis can destroy the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. Side effects in addition to those of gingivitis are receding gum lines, spaces forming between teeth, an unpleasant mouth odor or taste, and a pus between the teeth and gums. Real tooth and gum damage are a concern with periodontitis, so treatment to prevent any further damage is highly recommended at this stage.
This stage can bring an abnormally rapid deterioration of the teeth and gums. In this acute case of gum disease, tooth loss becomes an actual concern. A visit to the dentist is necessary in an effort to save the teeth and the function of chewing.
As you can see, gum disease can go from being something as mild as gum tenderness to a larger oral condition in just a few stages; however, prevention is simple and treatment options are available. Preventative care is as easy as (1) choosing the right toothbrush for your gums, (2) brushing twice a day, (3) flossing once a day, (4) monitoring sugar intake, and (5) keeping up with routine cleanings.
We understand oral health is a sensitive matter, so if after reading this you have questions regarding gum disease, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to call our office to schedule an appointment at 207-781-5900.