t’s estimated that nearly 75% of adults over 40 have gum disease. Unfortunately, there’s an alarming lack of knowledge regarding how the condition begins, the manner in which it manifests, forms of treatment, and the repercussions of not resolving it. Millions of people may not even be aware that there’s a growing problem in their mouth. Eventually, if left neglected, gum disease can result in lost teeth and other health impacts.
Today, we’ll explore the condition in detail and dispel a few myths surrounding it. I’ll describe the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis, the symptoms to watch for, and how to avoid the problem in the first place. Finally, I’ll explain how a periodontist can resolve the issue when necessary.
Separating Truth From Fiction
Oddly, a number of misconceptions about periodontal disease have emerged over the years. Some people believe that it’s the result of not brushing. In truth, over a quarter of the population is genetically predisposed to the condition. Others think that the problem is a minor one and will simply disappear on its own. In fact, it won’t. Like all infections, it will spread if it isn’t eliminated, eventually impacting your appearance and comfort while eating. Many people understand that gum disease is serious, but think treatment is painful. These days, your periodontist can often provide IV sedation to make the experience comfortable.
Gingivitis Vs. Periodontitis
Simply put, both represent gum disease. Gingivitis represents the initial manifestation of the problem. In many cases, people with gingivitis won’t feel any discomfort and therefore, may not even realize there’s a problem. When it’s identified at this stage, the issue can often be resolved at home. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gingivitis and can be serious. If left to fester, the plaque on your teeth will begin affecting your gum line. Meanwhile, the bacteria in your mouth will start producing toxins that break down the support structure of your teeth. At this point, treatment from your periodontist becomes critical.
Watch For Warning Signs
So, how do you know if there’s a problem, especially during the early stages? First, note any bleeding or swelling in your gums after brushing. Also, try to determine whether your gums are beginning to recede (if your teeth seem longer, that’s a good indication). If your teeth feel loose or the support structure isn’t as firm as it should be, you may have an early form of periodontal disease. If any of these symptoms are present, make an appointment with your periodontist to discuss how to fix the problem.
Developing Good Habits
The oral hygiene habits you formed when you were a young child will suit you well into adulthood. Prevention of gingivitis and periodontitis is largely a matter of daily brushing and flossing. The objective is twofold: to stop the spread of plaque and prevent the bacteria from producing the harmful toxins that deteriorate the bone and tissue surrounding your teeth.
Most of the plaque (and the bacteria it holds) can be kept in check by brushing and flossing twice each day. However, your toothbrush and floss won’t be able to remove all of it. That’s why you should visit your dentist or periodontist for routine cleaning twice per year. Also, consider using a mouthwash each day to kill the bacteria and help prevent the plaque from spreading.
The Role Of A Periodontist
Your periodontist performs several roles. He’ll provide guidance and advice to help you prevent the onset of gingivitis and periodontitis. He’ll also diagnose the condition and perform any work necessary to eliminate it. These dental professionals undergo extensive education and training (beyond that required of dentists) to master the techniques used to treat periodontal disease. They can also offer dental implants, smile makeovers, and other procedures related to cosmetic and laser dentistry.
If you notice any symptoms related to gum disease, make an appointment with your periodontist. He’ll be able to provide a pain-free treatment plan that can resolve the problem in a comfortable environment.