What is Gum Disease?

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Periodontal (gum) disease is one of America's most common health problems, with nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 suffering from or having experienced it some degree. Despite this high prevalence, prevention is as simple as maintaining an effecting oral hygiene routine at home and regularly visiting the dentist for cleanings.

The Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease develops in three stages, beginning with the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. This sticky, naturally occurring substance is deposited on the teeth by oral bacteria that feed on sugars and carbohydrates. Daily brushing and flossing prevent excessive plaque accumulation, which otherwise could lead to the progression of gum disease as follows:

1.      The first stage of gum is gingivitis, which develops as plaque deposits harden into tartar, and pockets of bacteria begin to grow at the gumline. Over time, the build-up of bacteria, plaque, and tartar causes irritation and infection at the gumline.

2.      In stage two, periodontitis develops. The pockets of bacteria start to work their way below the gumline, infecting the deep connective tissues that hold the teeth in place.

3.      The final stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis, where severe damage to the tissue and supporting jaw bone causes the teeth to become loose and fall out.

During the initial phase of gingivitis, the disease can be reversed with an aggressive hygiene routine. However, if the disease progresses to the next stage where periodontal pockets are created, patients often require a more extensive treatment as well as the development of a maintenance plan in order to protect the individual’s oral health and prevent recurrence.

A Silent Oral Disease
Gum disease is often a silent disease in that many people do not have symptoms that clearly point to its presence. In fact, the early stages of gum disease are asymptomatic, with no noticeable changes in the mouth until gingivitis develops.

This is just one reason why it's so important to establish a good oral health routine at home—with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing—and to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning. Gum disease can cause severe oral health problems which can in turn affect your overall health. However, with effective oral healthcare measures both at home and from your dentist, it's a problem that can easily be kept at bay.

Additionally, being able to recognize the signs of progressing gum disease can help patients prevent the long term consequences associated with the condition by seeking medical attention when they first recognize symptoms.

If you think you may be exhibiting signs of gum disease, schedule an appointment at Light Dental Studios – Puyallup today. Our Puyallup dentists can help you regain your long-term oral health.  

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