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Gum Disease 101

Receding gums, loose teeth, recurrent abscesses, bone loss, and ligament damage are all possible complications of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This infection is also a leading reason why dentists in Everett, WA perform dental implant procedures to replace missing teeth. But tooth loss isn’t inevitable, and neither is gum disease. Make a commitment to improve your oral health by visiting your dentist every six months to protect yourself from the harmful effects of periodontal disease.

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Causes and Risk Factors

The bacteria in your mouth combine with sugars and mucus to form a sticky film called plaque. It clings to your teeth, and if it isn’t removed, it can harden within 48 hours to form tartar. Plaque and tartar cause the gums to become swollen, reddened, inflamed, and susceptible to bleeding during brushing or flossing. This is the root cause of periodontal disease—poor oral hygiene. Other factors that contribute to gum disease development include the following:

  • Smoking/chewing tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • Certain medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Malocclusion that makes cleaning difficult

Even if you have one or more risk factors of gum disease, it’s preventable with a firm commitment to good oral hygiene and regular care from your dentist.

Signs and Symptoms

There are two main stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is tricky for patients to detect. They might only notice that their gums bleed easily when they clean their teeth. As the infection progresses, periodontitis can result in the following symptoms:

  • Recession of the gum line from the teeth
  • Formation of pockets between the gums and the teeth
  • Sensitivity and loosening of teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Painful chewing

Without intensive treatment, patients will begin to lose teeth and require dental implants.

Treatments and Preventive Measures

If a dentist diagnoses you with gingivitis, the treatment is relatively simple. Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning technique that clears away all of the tartar and plaque from beneath the gum line. This professional treatment, along with improved at-home oral hygiene, can be enough to reverse gingivitis. Other changes might be needed, such as smoking cessation. Advanced periodontitis will likely require oral surgery and perhaps antibiotic therapy.

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