Gum disease is a serious problem in the United States. Millions of people suffer from it, and many people who have it don’t even realize it. When gum disease goes untreated, it can ultimately lead to tooth loss, and studies have linked gum disease to chronic systemic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Your Aloha dentists, father and son team Drs. John and Ryan Smith, can help you prevent this disease.
But how does gum disease even get started in the first place?
Step 1 – Plaque
As so many dental issues do, gum disease starts with plaque.
Plaque is the sticky film that develops on your teeth throughout the day. It’s made up of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. When you brush and floss routinely using good technique, you are able to remove most of this plaque.
If plaque is allowed to stay in place, however, it hardens into calculus, or tartar. This substance can only be removed with professional instruments.
Step 2 - Gingivitis
Tartar contains bacteria, and it tends to accumulate at and below the gumline. As tartar accumulates, it irritates the gums, causing them to become puffy and inflamed. In these early stages, known as gingivitis, you may notice that your gums are red or tender. You might also notice bleeding when you brush and floss.
With prompt treatment, gingivitis is usually reversible.
Step 3 - Periodontitis
If no treatment is sought, than the gum disease will progress and infection will develop. As the gums pull away from the teeth, pockets form, providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria excrete acids, which eat away at the gum tissue and periodontal bone beneath.
At this stage, periodontitis, we can stall the progression of the disease, but once damage occurs to the gum tissue or bone structure, it can only be restored with surgery. A deep cleaning treatment called scaling and root planing allows us to remove bacteria and plaque from the roots of your teeth. This treatment, combined with local antibiotics, stops the infection and destroys the bacteria so the gum pockets can heal. Regular follow-ups and maintenance cleanings will help prevent further gum disease from developing.
As you can imagine, preventing this disease is crucial. If you are overdue for a cleaning, give us a call and schedule your next appointment today. We have locations in both Aloha and Hillsboro, and we can find a time that’s right for you!