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Winning the Battle against Gum Disease

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on February 26, 2010


One of the leading causes of tooth loss, gum disease is the inflammation of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. Inflammation is caused by the build-up of plaque on the teeth and gums. Plaque is partially made of bacteria, which can spread and infect the gum tissue, ligaments and the sockets of the tooth, leaving the tooth unsupported and loose. Eventually, if left untreated, tooth loss is imminent.


Gum disease occurs in two stages. The first stage, known as gingivitis, occurs when plaque begins to build at the base of the tooth. Over time, it hardens and becomes tartar. In response, the gums become red, swollen, irritated, may bleed. Though poor oral hygiene is one cause of gingivitis, the condition is also caused by illness, certain medications, and uncontrolled diabetes. Having crooked or crowded teeth may make a patient more susceptible to gingivitis as the spacing, or lack thereof, makes it very difficult to clean between the teeth with a toothbrush or floss.


Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. Though symptoms are similar to gingivitis, they are often more severe, with the appearance of deep red gums that bleed even with the gentlest touch of a toothbrush. Teeth may loosen as the bacteria continue to eat away at the gum tissue and supportive structures that keep the tooth in place.


A regular visit to the dentist, in addition to conscientious oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing, is the best way to prevent gum disease. During your visit, a hygienist will gently scrape the plaque from the base of your teeth, preventing it from causing irritation to your gums. For patients diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis, an in-office treatment such as scaling, may be prescribed. Patients with periodontitis may require further treatment, including LANAP periodontal treatment, to save the tooth and stop the bacteria from spreading to surrounding teeth. Keep teeth in top shape: brush and floss daily and have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year.

 

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