Gum disease is an all-too-common condition for people of all ages throughout the U.S. If you’ve already been diagnosed with gum disease, or if you believe you might be experiencing symptoms, you should know that in the vast majority of cases this condition is very treatable and reversible. What follows are some frequently asked questions about gum disease:
Q: What are the most common symptoms of gum disease?
A: There are several signs that may indicate gum disease. Those include discoloration of gum tissue, bleeding, swelling, receding gums, and tenderness of the gums. In the latter stages of the condition, teeth could become loose. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Much like virtually any oral health issue, the sooner gum disease is diagnosed, the easier and more effectively it can be treated.
Q: What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
A: Both gingivitis and periodontitis fall under the broad category of gum disease. The difference is the gingivitis is the early stage of the condition, and typically causes gums to be inflamed, pink or red in color, bleed (particularly when brushing and flossing), and may cause some relatively minor pain in the gum tissue. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease, which occurs when gingivitis is left untreated for long periods of time. Periodontal disease not only affects the gum tissue; it can also compromise the health of the jawbone. Symptoms of periodontitis include the same list of gingivitis symptoms, but are much more severe in nature. Periodontitis may also cause teeth to become loose or fall out. Periodontal disease not only impacts oral health; it can actually be fatal if it’s not treated.
Q: At what age is it most common for gum disease to form?
A: Although gum disease is more common in adults, any person at any age can develop it. This includes children. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a regular oral hygiene routine at home – by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day – and make sure that your children do the same.
Q: How is gum disease treated?
A: There are several effective methods for treating gum disease, and which one(s) your dentist recommends will depend on how far the condition has progressed. If you have the early stages of gingivitis, your dentist may recommend that you increase your at-home oral hygiene regimen – by perhaps using a water flosser and/or an anti-bacterial mouthwash, for example – and maybe come in for professional cleanings every 3 or 4 months. More advanced stages of the condition might require more invasive procedures, such as scaling and root planing. Your dentist can provide you with additional information.
The good news is that gum disease is entirely preventable if you simply follow a good oral hygiene routine at home each and every day, and visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.