What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. It is also called periodontal disease.
The two stages of gum disease are called gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is mild gum disease that affects only the gums, the tissue that surrounds the teeth. Periodontitis is gum disease that gets worse and spreads below the gums to damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth.
What causes gum disease?
Your mouth constantly makes a clear, sticky substance called plaque that contains bacteria. The bacteria in plaque make poisons, or toxins, that irritate the gums and cause the gum tissues to break down. If you donít do a good job of removing plaque from your teeth, it can spread below the gums and damage the bone that supports the teeth. With time, the plaque hardens into a substance called tartar that has to be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
You are more likely to get gum disease if you:
- Do not clean your teeth well.
- Smoke or chew tobacco.
- Have someone in your family who has gum disease.
- Have a condition that makes it harder for your body to fight infection, such as:
- Uncontrolled diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia.
- A high level of stress.
- A poor diet thatís low in nutrients.
How is it treated?
If you have a mild case of gum disease, you will probably be able to take care of it by brushing and flossing your teeth every day and getting regular cleanings at your dentistís office.
If your gum disease has become worse and you have periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth using a method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line. You may also need to take antibiotics to help get rid of the infection in your mouth. If your gum disease is severe, you may need to have surgery.
How can you prevent gum disease?
Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, even children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life:
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day, in the morning and before bedtime, with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss your teeth once each day.
- Visit our dental office for regular checkups and teeth cleaning.
- Donít use tobacco products.
- Arestin antibiotic treatment to kill bacterial infection.
If you think you have a mild case of gum disease, make sure to take care of it before it gets worse. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy and getting regular checkups with Dr. Ortega can keep the disease from getting worse.
Having gum disease may increase a pregnant womanís risk of having a premature, low-birth-weight baby.1 Also, studies have found a direct link between heart disease and the bacteria that cause gum disease.2 So taking good care of your teeth and gums may have benefits beyond keeping your mouth healthy.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
Weíre excited to partner with you for a lifetime of strong, healthy, beautiful smiles. Call 305-662-2599 to schedule your familyís checkups, your personal consultation, or a second-opinion visit with Dr. Ortega. We provide comprehensive cosmetic and neuromuscular dentistry, for patients from Miami, and all around the world in our inviting Coral Gables dental office.