Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding and supporting your teeth. Gum disease is progressive – starting as gingivitis, then leading to periodontitis and finally, advanced periodontitis. When left untreated, gum disease can cause a host of health issues that negatively affect your oral and overall health, including bone loss and even cardiovascular issues.
Gum disease is initially caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth that spreads below the gumline. The buildup of plaque causes the gums to become inflamed and swell. When the bacteria caused by plaque below the gumline is left to multiply, inflammation will occur and spaces, or “pockets” will form between the tooth and gum. Bacteria grow rapidly in these pockets, leading to further complications.
Early identification and treatment of gum disease is key to protecting your teeth and gums. If you are experiencing any of the following, please talk to our dental team about your concerns as they are often signs of gum disease (with or without pain):
- Swollen, tender, bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Persistent halitosis
- Loose teeth
- Visible discharge surrounding the teeth or gums
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. In this stage, plaque has built up at the gumline and gums have become infected. Typically, gums will have become swollen and bleed sometimes during brushing. At this early stage, solid brushing and flossing habits paired with regular dental cleanings can reverse the effects of gum disease. At later stages, periodontal treatment may be necessary.
Some people are more at risk for gum disease. Risk factors include age, smoking, and genetics. If you are concerned that you are at a higher risk, it is even more important to stay consistent with your oral hygiene routine as well as talk to our dental team about your concerns.
We at Cooper Family Dentistry are here to help. If you are concerned about gum disease, please feel free to call our friendly office staff at 501-982-7547 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request.