Gum disease, caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar, is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. The disease grows in stages, starting as gingivitis and, if untreated, evolving into advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. Bleeding, irritated and/or swollen gums are typical signs of gum disease, which most American adults will experience at some point in their lives.
The good news is that gum disease, if tackled head-on with the help of a dentist, is reversible. What’s the process for reversing it? Read on for an explanation from our Raleigh-area periodontists:
The beginning of gum disease
Gum disease and cavities start the same way. Saliva and tooth surfaces host normal bacteria in your mouth. Without proper oral hygiene, the bacteria feed on what you eat, including food particles that remain between your teeth and along your gum line if they aren’t brushed or flossed out. The bacteria buildup eventually turns into plaque and tartar, attracting even more bacteria. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits work to prevent this buildup and, in turn, gum disease. But without preventative measures, the bacteria continue to feed and grow, eventually creating pockets and channels allowing the bacteria to travel further down a tooth’s surface. Gums start receding, paving the way for the bacteria to cover the entire surface of the tooth and reach its root pocket. This causes infections and weakens the tooth’s roots, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss.
What are the signs/symptoms of gum disease?
- Red, swollen and/or receding gums
- Gums that bleed during and after brushing teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes in the way the teeth fit when biting down
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Loose or shifting teeth
How is gum disease treated?
Gingivitis is the beginning of gum disease and can sometimes be reversed simply by correcting oral hygiene practices and visiting a dentist for one or more professional cleanings. But in some cases of gingivitis — and practically all cases of periodontitis — our periodontists in Cary will recommend a deep clean, also called root planing and scaling.
What is a deep clean?
Our Apex-area periodontists use special instruments and techniques to gently scrape away bacteria, plaque and tartar deposits on the lower surfaces of the teeth down to the roots. This procedure, which may require more than one appointment, helps clean plaque and tartar above and below the gum line, effectively stopping the advancement of gum disease and the possibility of tooth loss.
Periodontist in Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina
Thankfully, gum disease can not only be prevented with strong oral hygiene practices but it can also be reversed with professional dental cleanings and deep cleans. If you notice loose permanent teeth, or if your gums are red, swollen or bleeding more than normal, schedule a consultation with our Raleigh periodontists at Triangle Periodontics by calling (919) 782-9536, or contact us online today.