Gum Disease

What is gingivitis?

The pink gum around each tooth is called the gingiva. There is a natural space, called a pocket, that exists between the gingiva and tooth that is measured in millimeters to help gauge periodontal health. This space is a haven for initial plaque build-up.  In gingivitis, the pocket measurements are normal but the plaque is an irritant and causes the gums to become inflamed. The plaque and tartar that build there are foreign bodies that act much like gravel, making the gums swell and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort but the bleeding may be noticeable when brushing and flossing. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. It is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care. Gingivitis may occur alone or be found along with periodontitis.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a serious infection of the tooth-supporting structures (gum and bone) that can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease is usually a chronic, progressive bacterial infection but it can also be rapid in nature. It may affect one or more teeth.

Certain types of destructive bacteria thrive in deeper gum pockets. They manufacture toxins that destroy gum tissue and bone creating diseased pockets that grow deeper and cannot be reached by normal brushing and flossing. Eventually, teeth become loose and may have to be removed. Periodontal disease may be managed with professional treatment and good oral home care but is not curable. 

Preventing Periodontal disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing and regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progression. Don’t delay!  Research has shown a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease, type II diabetes, premature births and a growing number of medical concerns. 

Factors affecting periodontal disease

  • Smoking/Tobacco Use
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy and Puberty
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth
  • Diabetes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Systemic diseases that weaken the immune system (ie. HIV)