What Is Gum Disease And What Is A Periodontist Role?


Gum disease is also known as periodontitis and periodontal disease. It starts with bacterial growth and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. The disease damages the tissue surrounding your teeth. Millions of people suffer from gum disease and rush to the dentist once it has progressed significantly.

Are Gum Disease And Gingivitis The Same?

Gingivitis tends to precede gum disease. But, one should keep in mind that gingivitis does not progress to periodontitis all the time. During the early stage of gingivitis, plaque begins to build up which causes inflammation in the gums. Thus, whenever you brush your teeth, the gums would start to bleed. Even though the gums might be irritated, your teeth would still be planted firmly in place. At this stage, there would be no irreversible bone or any other tissue damage.

If gingivitis is not treated, it would progress to periodontitis. Anyone who has periodontitis would suffer from the bone and the inner layer of the gum pulling away from their teeth and forming pockets. As these small spaces form between the gums and teeth, debris would accumulate and the space would become infected. The immune system in your body will try to fight off the bacteria as plaque grows and spreads.

Toxins would be produced by the plaque and they will affect the good enzymes in your body. This will result in the bone and all the connective tissue holding your teeth in place breaking down. The pockets would only deepen as the gum disease progresses. It will result in more bone and gum tissue getting destroyed. Once this occurs, your teeth would no longer be anchored and would become loose. Finally, tooth loss would happen.

So What Causes Gum Disease?

According to San Francisco dentist, Dr. Shirvani, the main cause of periodontitis is plaque. But, there are other factors which also contribute to gum disease as mentioned below.

  • A family history of dental disease may be the leading factor behind the development of gum disease.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits like not flossing or brushing your teeth regularly can make it a lot easier for gum disease to develop.
  • Bad habits like smoking prevent the gum tissue from repairing itself.
  • Hormonal changes as experienced during monthly menstruation, menopause, puberty, and pregnancy make the gums a lot more sensitive which make it easier for gum disease to develop.
  • Illnesses might also impact the condition of the gums such as HIV or cancer as they interfere with your immune system. Similarly, diabetes impacts the body by distorting its ability to effectively use blood sugar.
  • Medications also tend to impact your oral health by decreasing the flow of saliva which is responsible for protecting the teeth and gums. There are some drugs which cause the gum tissue to experience abnormal growth.
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What Are the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease?

Inflammation (Gingivitis)

Periodontal disease starts with inflammation in the gums. The first stage is known as gingivitis. The first signs that you will observe during this stage include the bleeding of gums when you floss or brush your teeth. You would also experience some discoloration of the teeth. It is called plaque and is a build-up of food debris and bacteria on the teeth. While bacteria are always present in our mouth, they become harmful when certain conditions permit it to increase significantly. This happens when you do not brush or floss your teeth as often or get dental cleanings done regularly.

Early Periodontal Disease

Gums recede or pull away from the teeth during the early stages of periodontal disease. It leads to small pockets forming between the gums and teeth. These pockets harbour harmful bacteria. The immune system fights the infection which only causes the gum tissue to recede. This results in one experiencing gums bleeding while flossing or brushing their teeth.

Moderate Periodontal Disease

Now, if left to progress, moderate periodontal disease would be experienced. It would result in more pain and bleeding as well as gum recession. At the same time, the teeth would begin losing bone support and become quite loose. Moreover, the infection can also cause an inflammatory response throughout the body.

Advanced Periodontal Disease

The connective tissue which is responsible for holding the teeth in place would begin to deteriorate in the advanced stage. Thus, the bones, gums, and other tissues which support the teeth would be destroyed. Moreover, one would also experience severe pain while chewing, foul taste, and severe bad breath. Furthermore, you would also end up losing the tooth altogether.

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What Can A Periodontist Do To Help?

Periodontists are periodontal specialists who prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. They also place dental implants. As experts of oral inflammation treatment, patients who have gum disease can count on them to help them out. A periodontist has extensive training in the treatment of gum disease. They study for an extra three years upon completion of dental school. Thus, they are completely familiar with the most recent techniques for treating gum disease. In addition to diagnosing and treating gum disease, they are also trained in cosmetic periodontal procedures.

Often, periodontists treat highly problematic cases such as ones that involve complex medical history or severe gum disease. Various treatment options are offered by periodontists like root planing and scaling (wherein the root of the infected surface would be cleaned) and root surface debridement (wherein the damaged tissue would be removed).

Moreover, periodontists also treat patients that have severe gum problems through the use of a variety of surgical procedures. They are even trained in placing, maintaining, and repairing dental implants.

What Should You Expect During A Visit To The Periodontist?

When you first visit the periodontist, he or she would review your entire dental and medical history. You must let the periodontist know which medications you use as they might be the cause of the issue. It is also important to tell the periodontist if you are suffering from any condition like pregnancy, diabetes, or heart disease. The gums will be examined by the periodontist to see if the teeth fit together, the gum line has not been affected, and to check whether the teeth are loose or not. You can rest assured that the periodontist will help treat you.


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