Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects over 90% of Americans each year, and the reality is that you will most likely experience some form of it over the course of your life. The only question is—to what degree? Here’s what to know about gum disease.
Gum disease is any sort of infection that takes place on the gums and around the teeth. The two most common types of gum diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is an accumulation of plaque that typically signifies early gum disease, and can get more severe if left untreated. If you have gingivitis, your gums will be inflamed and irritated, and may even bleed. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease.
Periodontitis is inflammation of the harder tissues surrounding your teeth. In this instance, the inner layers of gum and bone pull away from the tooth and form a pocket that can collect debris and get infected. Left unchecked, tooth loss can be a result of periodontitis.
[Related: What is Periodontal Maintenance?]
To put it plainly, gum disease is caused by poor or infrequent dental hygiene. The main culprit of the disease is dental bacterial plaque, the biofilm that results when bacteria concentrate at the gum line in everyone’s mouth. If you neglect thorough brushing, flossing, and dental visits, or if you smoke or use tobacco products, you could be at a higher risk for getting gum disease. Certain diseases, hormonal changes, and medications can also increase the risk for gum disease.
Think of your mouth as an ecosystem with your own oral tissues living alongside millions of bacteria. However, without thorough brushing, flossing, and routine dental cleanings, this balance can tip towards the first stage of periodontal disease—gingivitis or inflammation of the gingiva (gums).
Although studies have shown that gum disease is most common in people over the age of 65, there isn’t one main demographic who are the most at risk. Since we all have teeth, everyone needs to take care of them regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity—especially if you haven’t always been on top of your dental care.
Without proper treatment, early stages of gum disease can result in teeth becoming infected, loose, and possibly needing to come out. Treat your gum disease by brushing and flossing frequently, avoiding use of tobacco products, and seeing your dental hygienist regularly. They can come up with a plan of action that may require professional deep cleaning or other periodontal procedures.
If you have any questions or concerns about gum disease, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment for a cleaning or consultation, please contact Cascadia Dental Specialists at (425) 644-7444, on our web contact form, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll speak to you soon!