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Learning you have gum disease can be distressing, especially if you have heard of the variety of health conditions associated with this chronic infection. The truth is that a good percentage of American adults have gum disease. This process can begin so mildly that it is barely noticeable, but has the capability of progressing to the point of tooth loss.
There is much to learn about gum disease, but the information now available allows you and your dentist to work together to restore oral health if you are diagnosed with gum disease.
What causes gum disease?
Contrary to common belief, gum disease is not caused by poor oral hygiene, although the way we care for our teeth and gums can either increase or decrease our risk of developing problems. Each person has millions of bacteria that live in the mouth. When combined with saliva, food debris, and other particles, bacteria form plaque, a sticky substance that collects near the gum line. The goal of brushing and flossing daily is to remove plaque and thereby inhibit bacterial activity in the mouth. If plaque is not successfully removed, the substance will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed in a dental office under the experience of your dentist or hygienist.
Stages of gum disease
When gum tissue first becomes irritated by the colonization of bacteria at the gum line, they become inflamed. We call this gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease is difficult to detect. Gums may look swollen and red, but usually not to a large degree. One of the biggest indicators of gum disease is bleeding. Gingivitis affects only the gum tissue, and does not threaten the underlying bone that supports teeth.
If gingivitis is not detected nor treated, gum disease will progress into periodontitis, which translates into “inflammation around a tooth.” Periodontitis is more noticeable than gingivitis, with gum tissue pulling away from the teeth. The danger with gum recession is that pockets form, allowing bacteria to move into the area between the tooth root and the gums. As infection progresses, the body responds by beginning to break down the connective tissues and bone that keep teeth stabilized. If the disease process continues, the risk of losing teeth significantly increases.
Why treat gum disease
The immediate importance of treating gum disease is to prevent tooth loss. However, treating gum disease will also decrease your risk factors of other systemic diseases. Though research is ongoing, we are steadily learning the significant role that gum disease, and the chronic inflammation it causes, plays in our overall health.
Dr. Elzayat, your dentist in North Hollywood, will treat you with individual care. Our first priority is to prevent the onset of gum disease through early detection and excellent oral hygiene care. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, we will devise a treatment plan based on your precise needs.
Keep your smile healthy. Contact our office to schedule your dental checkup.