You should know a few important facts about gum disease. The word “disease” suggests impairment in the normal state of a living thing, or any abnormal condition that interferes with physiological processes.
Since healthy gums are important to healthy teeth — and healthy teeth are important to the process of feeding your body the nutrients that keep it healthy — you can see how gum disease quickly has the potential to influence your overall quality of life.
What Is Gum Disease?
In simplest terms, having gum disease means that the tissue that supports your teeth is infected. This infection is dangerous to the body and can potentially lead to tooth loss and other health risks.
First Plaque, Then Tartar
The mouth is filled with bacteria that form plaque on your teeth. We brush our teeth and floss to get rid of this plaque, but if it isn’t removed, the plaque soon hardens and forms tartar (also known as “calculus”), which cannot be removed by brushing. At that point, only your friendly neighborhood dental office can safely and effectively remove tartar through professional cleaning.
The Warning Sign of Gingivitis
If plaque and tartar remain on the teeth, they become increasingly harmful to your mouth. The bacteria cause gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums, leaving them red, swollen and likely to bleed. On the gum disease spectrum, gingivitis is relatively mild and can be treated with daily brushing and flossing, as well as a regular cleaning at our office.
Periodontitis: A Downward Spiral
But if gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to inflammation around the teeth called periodontitis, which is when gum disease starts to get scary… Here’s what happens with periodontitis:
The gums pull away from the teeth, which leaves pockets that become infected. Plaque continues to spread and grows beneath the gum line. Next the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place begin to break down, due to the bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection. And if this sad scenario remains untreated, your teeth are likely to become loose and need to be removed, because the bones, gums and tissue that once supported them have been decimated.
The Good News
There’s no need to lose your smile to gum disease. But the choice is yours, and we’re here to help you maintain pristine oral health. It’s simple:
1. Brush your teeth twice a day.
2. Floss once a day.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet.
4. And come to visit us for your regular checkups and cleanings.
If you have questions or concerns about gum disease, feel free to call Oxford Lakes Dental Care at 248.628.2540.