August 16, 2018
You might have heard a lot about gum disease. It is one of the most common afflictions among adults in the United States, and it has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease and dementia. Still, you might be a bit confused about this condition. Gingivitis and periodontitis are both terms that refer to gum disease, but are they the same thing? Let’s take a moment to discuss this important question.
Gingivitis: The First Stage of Gum Disease
Periodontal (gum) disease has two basic stages. Gingivitis is the mildest form of the condition. It occurs when plaque builds up along the gums and causes them to become inflamed. As a result, the gums may become swollen and tender. They may tend to bleed easily during brushing and flossing.
If your dentist diagnoses you with gingivitis, you should be concerned but not alarmed. It’s very likely that a few adjustments to your oral hygiene routine and a little help for your dentist will be able to stop the gum disease.
Periodontitis: Advanced Gum Disease
If you have gingivitis but do not take the necessary steps to stop it, the condition could progress to periodontitis, the second stage of gum disease. It is much more serious than gingivitis because it can lead to irreversible bone and soft tissue damage. It may even cause tooth loss.
Some signs that indicate you may have periodontitis include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gum recession
- Swollen, bleeding gums
If you suspect you have periodontitis, it is imperative that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. They may recommend that you undergo a deep cleaning of your mouth (a procedure called scaling and root planing) and take some antibiotics to kill the bacteria that is causing the gum disease. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to fight the problem.
Prevention Is Key
Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gum disease, a fact that is both good news and bad news. It’s bad news because many people still need help to get into a daily routine that protects them from gum problems. It is good news because you may have the power to save yourself from gingivitis and periodontitis! Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy mouth:
- When you brush your teeth, be sure to do so long the gum line and on the side of your teeth that faces your mouth’s interior.
- Be sure to floss; floss can clear away plaque that gets lodged between your teeth at the gum line.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and checkup. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice on how to improve your oral hygiene routine at home.
Gum disease is nothing to take lightly. If you have reason to believe that you have gingivitis or periodontitis, see your dentist as soon as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Alex Martin is your skilled dentist in Scottsdale. He provides both preventive and restorative services that aim to keep his patients’ teeth and gums in good condition. If you have concerns about gum disease or other oral health issues, contact our office at 480-860-1993.
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