What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an oral infection that develops in your gum tissue. It results from excessive plaque in your mouth, a type of harmful bacteria that sticks to your teeth. Unfortunately, nearly half of American adults have periodontal disease.
Once it develops, gum disease can lead to serious health problems without treatment. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms so you can seek treatment right away.
The Stages of Gum Disease
- Gingivitis — In the first stage of periodontal disease, your gums will start to look red and inflamed from plaque buildup around the gum line. There’s typically no pain in this early stage, so some patients don’t even realize they have an infection.
- Periodontitis — Without prompt treatment, gingivitis will eventually progress to periodontitis. This is when bacteria starts to destroy the underlying bone and tissues in your mouth, eventually leading to tooth loss. You’ll also feel severe pain in your gums.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Some of these include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Medications that reduce saliva flow
- Certain health conditions, such as cancer and AIDS
If you notice that your gums look red and swollen, or if they bleed when you brush your teeth, contact our office immediately.
Treatments for Gum Disease
If you seek treatment during the gingivitis stage of gum disease, it’s relatively easy to reverse. You may even be able to eliminate the infection with improved oral care at home.
If this doesn’t work, Dr. Milsap can rid your mouth of bacteria with scaling and root planing. Sometimes referred to as a deep cleaning, this process involves removing plaque from above and below your gumline.
Once your condition progresses to periodontitis, we’ll have to resort to more drastic measures to preserve your teeth. We may perform root canal therapy if you have teeth with infected pulp tissue.
Though we’ll do our best to avoid it, the last resort is to extract any teeth we can’t save and restore them with dental implants. The best way to avoid this is to seek treatment at the earliest sign of infection in your gums.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by an accumulation of excess bacteria in your mouth. This leaves sticky deposits on your teeth called plaque that will eventually destroy your enamel without treatment.
To prevent plaque from building up, make sure to brush and floss every day in addition to visiting your dentist for regular check-ups.
What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease when symptoms are mild and can still be reversed with relative ease. Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease when your symptoms become noticeable and the infection begins to threaten your oral health.
What if I leave my gum disease untreated?
If you suspect you have gum disease, it’s crucial to seek treatment right away. If you ignore your condition, it can lead to serious health consequences including tooth loss, cardiovascular issues, and more. You’ll also feel pain in your gums on a regular basis.
What’s the best mouthwash to prevent gum disease?
There are many brands of antibacterial mouthwash that will help to prevent gum disease. Two choices we recommend are Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash and Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield.
Visit Dr. Milsap for Gum Disease Treatment
Don’t let gum disease ruin your health. Call one of our two locations in the Fort Myers area and schedule a consultation with Dr. Milsap today. With over 40 years of experience, he can provide the top-level care you’re looking for.