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What is Gum Disease and How do I know if I have It?

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By Linda Porteous RDH, Larry Porteous Family Dentistry, Resident since 1988

Gum disease is swelling, redness, bleeding and soreness of the gums around your teeth. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, the sticky, colorless film that forms on teeth daily. These plaque bacteria have toxins that irritate and inflame the gums. If this plaque is not removed throughly each day by proper brushing and flossing, it will build-up and infect the gums and bone that support teeth.

The signs of gum disease are not always evident and often painless. Seeing your dentist regularly is important to check for any symptoms of gum disease. If caught early, gum disease is easier to treat and reversible.

There are three stages of gum disease:

The first stage of gum disease is called Gingivitis. Gums may bleed when brushing and flossing and be tender. Gingivitis can be reversed with regular cleanings at your dental office and with proper brushing and flossing at home.

Periodontitis occurs if gingivitis is left untreated. Plaque bacteria spreads below the gum line on the tooth root surfaces causing an infection which damages the bone and supporting tissues that hold teeth in place. Pockets develop around the teeth making cleaning now more difficult. This stage of gum disease can be treated effectively by your dentist or Periodontist followed by careful home care and regular dental visits.

Advanced Periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease. The bone and supporting tissues around the teeth are destroyed, resulting in tooth shifting or loosening which affects your bite. If periodontal treatment can not save the teeth, tooth loss is the result.

The good news is Gingivitis and Periodontitis are preventable. Having regular dental visits to discover and treat early gum disease is important before the disease process leads to more serious problems and eventual tooth loss.

Visit your dentist and brush and floss daily to keep your teeth and smile for life.

Larry Porteous Family Dentistry