Despite being one of the most common medical problems in the U.S., many people are unaware that they have gum disease. In reality, nearly half of all adults over the age of 30 have active gum disease, and more than 70% of the over 65 population is living with gum disease. Due to the prevalence of the condition, it’s important to understand more about it and learn how it could be affecting your overall well-being.
To find out everything you need to know, take a look at these FAQs concerning gum disease:
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when bacteria in the mouth affects the gums. A build-up of plaque on the teeth increases the number of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause or exacerbate the symptoms of gum disease. Technically, gum disease is a bacterial infection, although many people experience symptoms for months or even years without realizing the true cause.
In medical terms, gum disease is known as periodontitis. However, dentists may refer to it as periodontitis more frequently when referring to more severe cases. When gum disease first develops, it may be referred to as gingivitis.
Although the condition predominantly affects the gums, it can impact other areas of the body. As gum disease worsens, for example, it’s likely to affect the alveolar process, the bone that holds your teeth. Due to this, gum disease could cause tooth loss if not resolved by your dentists swiftly.
In addition to this, gum disease has been linked to other conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. As we learn more about how the gums affect our overall health, it’s important to prioritize oral health care if you want to reduce your risk of developing other conditions too.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
When you first develop gum disease, you may notice a range of symptoms, including:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath (Halitosis)
As the condition worsens, additional symptoms may become apparent, such as:
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Loose or wobbly teeth
- Receding gums
- Gum abscesses
If you notice any symptoms relating to gum disease, it’s important to book a consultation with your dentist. Dr. Rinaldi offers a range of gum disease treatments and early intervention will give you access to a wider range of non-invasive options. Furthermore, treating gum disease swiftly can stop your symptoms from worsening, protect your overall health, and reduce the risk of your tooth becoming loose or destabilized.
Although some symptoms associated with gum disease can be painful, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many people don’t realize they have gum disease until their dentist tells them. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to visit your dentist for a regular checkup. By having your dentist monitor oral health regularly, your dentist can spot the signs of gum disease and provide you with the treatment you need before the condition worsens.
Can Gum Disease Be Cured?
When gum disease is in its earliest stages, it can be reversed with appropriate treatment. In most cases, a professional cleaning, scale, and polish will remove tartar and plaque and, therefore, remove the infection.
However, it’s vital that patients continue to brush and floss their teeth regularly to prevent gum disease from returning. By thoroughly removing plaque every day, you can stop a subsequent infection from taking hold.
In addition to treating early-stage gum disease with a professional scale and polish, Dr. Rinaldi may also recommend the use of certain products, such as antibiotic gels, antiseptic chips, and/or antimicrobial mouthwash. Using these as instructed will help to ensure the symptoms of gum disease are eradicated and prevent the condition from returning.
Can Periodontitis Be Treated?
If your gum disease has progressed beyond gingivitis, effective treatment is still available. Depending on the severity of your condition, a number of gum disease treatments may be an option. For example, your dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics if the infection is particularly deep-rooted.
In advanced cases, surgery may be the most effective way to treat periodontitis. Fortunately, laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP) offers a non-invasive way to treat advanced gum disease, which means you can resolve your symptoms with far less recovery time.
During the LANAP procedure, a dental laser is used to target the source of inflammation in or on the gums. With no stitching or incisions, LANAP can successfully remove bacteria without removing any healthy gum tissue.
With LANAP, Dr. Rinaldi can remove bacteria from deep within the gum. This prevents it from damaging the alveolar process and reduces the risk of your teeth becoming loose due to periodontitis. If you’ve already lost teeth prior to gum disease treatment, Dr. Rinaldi can use LANAP to help you retain existing healthy teeth and to ensure that any subsequent cosmetic dentistry, such as dental implants, can be fitted into healthy gums.
Can I Treat Gum Disease at Home?
Your at-home oral hygiene routine is critical to the prevention and successful treatment of gum disease. With a thorough, daily oral cleaning regime, you can reduce the risk of developing gingivitis because, when plaque doesn’t have the opportunity to build up, it can’t cause your gums to become infected.
Once gingivitis is present, however, it’s important to visit a dentist for gum disease treatment. A professional scale and polish will provide a more thorough cleaning and your dentist will be able to reach areas you cannot. During initial treatment for gum disease, for example, your dentist will clean below the gum line to remove any bacteria which may be lurking there.
Following successful gum disease treatment, it’s important to continue with a comprehensive daily oral hygiene routine. As well as flossing and brushing your teeth, you should follow the specific instructions given to you by your dentist to reduce the risk of gingivitis returning.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rinaldi, contact Rinaldi Dental Arts today at (301) 281-6413.