What is Gum Disease?
Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is inflammation of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth and is most commonly a result of poor dental hygiene. Gingivitis is a very common condition and varies widely in severity. It is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when teeth are brushed or flossed. Gingivitis is not the same thing as periodontitis. Gingivitis always precedes and acts as a warning sign for the more serious condition of periodontitis.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of gum disease include:
• Tender or bleeding gums
• Painful chewing
• Sensitive teeth
• Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
• Bright red, swollen gums that bleed very easily, even during brushing or flossing
• A bad taste or persistent mouth odor
• White spots or plaques on the gums
• Gums that look like they’re pulling away from the teeth
• Pus between gums or interdental spaces
• Loose teeth or tooth loss
What is the treatment for gum disease?
The treatment goals for gingivitis are to identify and eliminate the factors that make the person more susceptible to gum disease. Most factors can be eliminated by establishing more consistent and thorough oral hygiene habits and professional dental cleanings. If there are certain risk factors such as smoking or uncontrolled diabetes that are contributing to the gum disease, they need to be addressed or eliminated to have success in reversing gingivitis. After the plaque and tartar are removed by a dentist or dental hygienist, the patient can usually eliminate gingivitis by brushing and flossing after every meal.
In individuals where gingivitis has led to periodontal disease and there are deep pockets that are difficult to clean, the patient may require deep scaling and root planing to clean teeth that are surrounded by deep pockets. Soft-tissue grafts cover up root surfaces exposed by receding gums. This can help eliminate sensitive teeth and protect the root surfaces that are softer and more difficult to clean.Laser therapy is another treatment to help increase gum health. The gum pocket is treated with a soft-tissue laser to eliminate the harmful bacteria deep in the periodontal pockets, remove unhealthy tissue, and help stimulate healing.