You may have heard your
dentist or periodontist talk about
especially if you are experiencing bleeding or
swollen gums in Birmingham, AL
. Even if you are now showing signs
of gum disease, knowing the facts about this progressive condition can help
with its prevention. We answered the 5 most frequently asked questions about
gum disease in this month’s blog post.
What is gum disease?
Gum, or periodontal, disease is a
progressive condition that affects the gums. Characterized by inflammation,
begins when plaque and tartar
buildup cause the gums to become infected. This can lead to bleeding,
swollen gums in Birmingham, AL
, and gum
recession that can loosen the teeth. Advanced periodontitis is characterized by
chronic bad breath, severely diseased gums, and tooth loss. Recent studies have
also shown a link between
and systemic health, with an increased risk for low birth-weight babies,
diabetes, heart health issues, and stroke.
Are there different kinds of gum disease?
is a three-stage condition. The first
stage of gingivitis, characterized by tender, bleeding, and swollen gums, can
be reversed with timely treatment. The second stage periodontitis, is
characterized by worsening symptoms, including gum recession and deepening
periodontal pockets between the teeth. The last and most severe stage of
, advanced periodontitis,
includes destruction of both the hard and soft tissue, loose and shifting
teeth, and even tooth loss.
What increases my risk?
The main cause of gum disease is the plaque and tartar buildup that is not routinely
removed with regular dental hygiene appointments. Other factors can contribute
to the disease, including:
- Poor oral and nutritional health
Presence of systemic diseases
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Certain medications
What treatment options are available?
Treatment varies depending on the
specific stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is reversible with a proper “deep
cleaning” called scaling and root planing, which removes tartar buildup from
above and below the gum line. Sometimes gum
disease can be treated with antibiotics that help fight infection. More
advanced stages require a gingivectomy or osseous surgery, which removes
diseased gum tissue and reduces periodontal pockets, in addition to deep
cleaning the surface of the teeth. With more advanced stages, after initial
treatment, periodontal maintenance every 3-4 months is necessary to ensure
disease does not return.
Can gum disease be prevented?
Though gum disease can be genetic or due to medication use, there are certainly
ways you can reduce your risk for gum disease! In addition to maintaining
routine dental appointments and proper at-home care, eating a healthy diet and
flossing and brushing daily can help prevent gum disease. Do not smoke or use
tobacco, and if you grind your teeth, ask your dentist about custom night
guards. If you have diabetes or other systemic concerns, talk with your doctor
about precautions you can take to protect your smile.
you concerned you may have gum disease?
If you have swollen gums in Birmingham,
AL, or any other symptoms of gum disease, you may want to schedule an
appointment with our periodontist, Dr. Leigh Kent. Contact our office for a
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