An Introduction to Gum Disease
Most people at one time or another have visited a dentist to treat gum problems. Bacterial growth is a result of plaque buildup and the major cause for gum disease. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and cause problems. This plaque is known as tartar and you’ll find it very difficult to remove by flossing or brushing. The removal of tartar needs professional cleaning by a trained dentist or a dental hygienist. If left untreated, it could lead to gum diseases.
What are the complications related to gum diseases?
When tartar buildup is left untreated, the gums get attacked and it could lead to bleeding and swelling. A common symptom is the redness of the gums. The removal of tartar by ultrasonic devices and regular brushing along with flossing can halt the spread of this condition which is known as gingivitis. When gingivitis is left untreated the gums are weakened further. This condition is known as periodontitis. The gums pull away from the teeth causing gaps (also called spaces). Plaque normally enters below the gum line and harmful bacteria attack the bone and connected tissue, weakening the gums further. Eventually, the tooth becomes loose and often extraction is the only form of treatment.
What causes gum disease?
Smoking is a major risk associated with gum diseases and diabetes can also have a negative impact on your gums. Girls entering puberty are also at risk due to hormonal imbalances. OTC (over-the-counter) medications can reduce saliva and that has a direct bearing on the cause of gum issues.
What are the symptoms in recognizing gum disease?
Continuous bad breath despite repeated brushing and flossing is a common giveaway. Swollen and tender gums can also indicate a problem. In severe cases, receding gums and shaky teeth is a defining symptom.
How is gum disease treated?
The periodontist will first prescribe medications to control the infection. The doctor may also ask you to stop smoking so that the treatment is more effective. Plaque is removed by scraping below the gum line and sometimes hard tartar is removed by using lasers. Medications are administered to treat harmful bacteria. These medications can be a mouth rinse containing chlorhexidine which is an antimicrobial solution. Antibiotic gels that contain doxycycline may also be prescribed. For spaces below the gum line the antibiotic, minocycline, is normally advised.
When is surgical treatment indicated?
When the above treatments do not give the desired result then surgery is required in the form of bone and tissue grafts along with flap surgery. In this surgery, the gums are lifted up surgically so that tartar is removed and the gums are then sutured. In severe cases, a mesh like material is inserted between the gum tissue and bone so that new tissue is regenerated. Surgical intervention is normally a last resort as there is a level of discomfort.
If you suspect that you have symptoms of gum disease it is best to take action immediately and get in touch with a dentist who can help.
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