The general increase in awareness about the importance of healthy teeth has led to people taking more care of their oral hygiene. However, gums are still one of the most neglected parts of our body. Most people only focus on their pearly whites and forget about taking adequate care of the structures holding them in place. This could lead to deterioration, infection, and disease of the gums and their underlying structures.
What is Gum Disease/Periodontitis/Gingivitis
Inadequate maintenance of oral hygiene could lead to inflammation and infection of the gums, which is known as Gingivitis, as well as inflammation of the underlying tissues such as the alveolar bone, which is known as Periodontitis. If left untreated, the disease may lead to deterioration of these structures, and the infection could spread to tissue spaces, the brain, the heart and the mediastinum. It could even lead to a severe life-threatening condition known as Ludwig’s Angina.
What are the first symptoms of gum disease?
The initial symptom of gum disease is a reddening and slight swelling of the gums. Your gums may even feel sore and sensitive to hot and spicy foods. As the disease progresses, so do the symptoms, and there may be generalized, dull pain all over the upper or lower arch of the mouth along with bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods. The deposition of plaque, tartar, and calculus is another important sign of Gingivitis and Periodontitis. This often leads to a receding gum line and underlying bone resorption, which is irreversible. After a significant amount of bone tissue is lost, there may be tooth loss, loose teeth, and generalized gum line recession.
What Are The Different Types/Stages Of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be classified in many ways. The most common classifications are done according to onset, severity, and location.
According to the onset of the disease:
- Acute Gingivitis: onset is relatively sudden
- Chronic Gingivitis: has been present for quite some time and is getting progressively worse.
According to severity:
- Mild Gingivitis: slight redness and swelling, no pain or bleeding on probing, normal stippling. No loss of bone tissue.
- Moderate Gingivitis: notable redness and swelling, some degree of bleeding on probing. No loss of bone tissue.
- Severe Gingivitis without Periodontitis: swollen, puffy gums, with marked redness and generalized gingival pain. Spontaneous bleeding and loss of stippling. No loss of bone tissue.
- Necrotizing ulcerative Gingivitis: Painful, swollen gums with marked redness. Spontaneous bleeding, high-grade fever, and palpable lymph nodes around the area. Ulceration and necrosis of the gums. No loss of bone. Bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth.
- Combined Gingivitis and Periodontitis: redness of gums, swelling, loss of stippling pocket formation, which is less than 4 mm, and loss of bone tissue around the tooth.
- Moderate Periodontitis: Redness of gums, pocket formation, which is less than 6 mm, and loss of bone tissue.
- Severe Periodontitis: redness and swelling of the gums. Deep pockets more than 6mm, marked loss of bone structure surrounding the tooth
- Necrotizing ulcerative Periodontitis: Painful, swollen gums with marked redness. Spontaneous bleeding, high-grade fever, and palpable lymph nodes around the area. Ulceration and necrosis of the gums. Loss of bone tissue, bad breath, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
What Are The Main Causes Of Gum Disease? How Do You Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease is often caused by inadequate maintenance of oral hygiene. Food particles collect around the teeth and in between the gums and teeth, where they attract bacteria and cause inflammation and infection. This bacteria forms plaque, which may then harden to form calculus.
If not removed in time, calculus and plaque continue to accumulate in the area and wreak havoc on the gums and underlying structures. Gingivitis may also be a sign of other illnesses. Severe Gingivitis and Periodontitis are often found in immunocompromised patients.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Heart Health?
Gingivitis may worsen heart disease and increase the risk of a condition known as Endocarditis. Endocarditis is the inflammation and infection of the inner lining of the heart. Bacteria from the gums may travel through the bloodstream and infect your heart’s lining, causing you to develop Endocarditis.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Pregnancy?
Pregnancy usually causes a surge in hormones, which affects a woman’s body in different ways. One effect of the hormones is the swelling of the gums, also known as pregnancy Gingivitis. This condition usually dissipates naturally after birth.
What Is The Treatment Of Gum Disease?
The best treatment for gum disease is to brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush, floss regularly, and get professional scaling done at least once every six months. Your dentist will explain how to shrink gum pockets further after your initial treatment.
Is Gum Disease Reversible?
Gum disease or Gingivitis is completely reversible. However, the loss of bone tissue in periodontitis cannot be reversed.
How Long Does It Take To Treat Gum Disease? How Many Visits Does It Take?
The treatment of gum disease varies from person to person according to the severity of the disease. However, the first step is to get your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist to remove plaque, calculus, and tartar.
What Is Periodontal Maintenance? Is It Required To Fully Treat Periodontitis/Gum Disease?
Periodontal maintenance is stopping the progress of periodontal disease from preventing further bone and tissue loss. After a thorough scaling by the dentist, regular brushing and flossing can help individuals keep their teeth happy.
Follow Up Care After Periodontal Treatment, Scaling, And Deep Cleaning
Following scaling and polishing, some degree of sensitivity remains, which can often be felt upon the consumption of hot or cold beverages. Some dentists apply a fluoride moose to help with post-op sensitivity. This sensitivity often lasts for less than a week.
What Is The Home Remedy For Gum Pain?
The best home remedy for gum pain is warm saline rinses that help to reduce inflammation and keep the area clean. Teeth must be cleaned regularly with a soft toothbrush as well. Regular flossing also helps clean the areas in between teeth.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis are the most common diseases of the mouth. If not treated properly, gum disease can lead to a number of serious conditions as well. Thus, it is imperative for everyone to brush and floss regularly, and get a scaling done by a dentist every six months.
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