Gum Disease Stages
Chances are you or someone you know has a form of gum disease. In fact, 75% of Americans will develop gum disease in their lifetime. It’s important to distinguish that there isn’t just one form of gum disease, but multiple that may affect your overall oral health. If left untreated, certain forms of gum disease can leave you at risk for certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s important to educate yourself of the symptoms, risks and treatments for gingivitis—and its more advanced stage, periodontitis—the two most common forms of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the most well-known form of gum disease—you’ve heard about it from your dentist, or seen ads about fighting it on TV—but besides knowing the name, can you identify what gingivitis actually is? Gingivitis develops when plaque that contains bacteria slowly backs up on your teeth and gums. Given time, the toxins released by the built-up plaque begins to damage your teeth and gums, making them sensitive, irritated and puffy. Prolonging gingivitis can lead to much more serious conditions.
If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis—a much more dangerous form of gum disease. Periodontal disease can cause an infection that destroys the bone supporting your teeth which may lead to tooth loss, bleeding gums and bad breath.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
For many people, mild gum disease won’t show any symptoms, but if you notice anything different about your mouth or teeth, be sure to tell your dental professional. Failing to maintain a proper oral care routine at home puts you at major risk to develop gum disease. Gum disease is also caused by a litany of other factors that have nothing to do with brushing your teeth. For example, tobacco users often see an increase in disease along their gum lines. In fact, smokers are 2x more likely to develop gum disease. Changes in the human body can also lead to gum disease. Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy can lead 60-70% of pregnant women to experience issues with gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatments
There are ways in which you can treat or severely limit gum disease. First and foremost, follow your dental hygienist’s or dentist’s instructions for regular oral care at home in order to get the most benefit out of your treatment. That means twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, plus regular visits to the dentist for follow-ups and professional cleanings. If you experience any new problems following a regular oral care routine, ask your dental hygienist or dentist to recommend products that can make your routine easier. An electric toothbrush with a round brush head—like the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000—and dental floss are designed with your gum health in mind.
When you want to treat gum disease, especially gingivitis, try these simple but effective methods:
Brush twice a day, every day
Rinse thoroughly with an anti-gingivitis mouthwash
Visit your dental professional regularly
Questions About Gum Disease
Q: What does gum disease look like?
A: Gingivitis—and its later form, periodontitis—are formed by plaque buildup along the gum line. Though you may not notice anything in mild cases of gum disease, sensitive teeth, bleeding or swollen gums are the most common warning signs that something needs to be addressed.
Q: Can gum disease be cured?
A: Gum disease can be cured—and prevented, for that matter—by adhering to a routine recommended by dentists. That is: brushing twice-a-day, every day. Using floss daily. Rinsing with an anti-gingivitis mouthwash and visiting you dentist regularly. Using an electric toothbrush with a round brush head—like the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000—also helps to combat the effects of gum disease.
Q: Can gum disease be reversed?
A: Gum disease symptoms can be reversed by adhering to a strict oral care regimen.
Q: What exactly Is gum disease?
A: The American Dental Association (ADA) defines gum disease as "an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth." What does this mean to you? It means that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Q: What causes gum disease?
A: Gum disease is caused by plaque—a semi-transparent, sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can build up to create damaging toxins if you don't have a proper oral care regimen. The beginning stage of this plaque buildup is a characteristic of gingivitis. Plaque itself is caused naturally by the things you do every day, such as eating or breathing.
Q: How do I know if I have gum disease?
A: There are several telltale signs of gum disease. They include:
Bleeding gums (especially when you brush and floss)
Tender, swollen gums
A receding gum line
Persistent bad breath
Q: Is gum disease inevitable?
A: Fortunately, it's not. While we all have plaque (it's naturally occurring), there are several easy steps you can take every day to help keep your smile healthy for life. And while you might be familiar with each step, you might not realize how important it is that you do all the steps together, every day.
Q: What if I think I have gum disease?
A: Don't worry, you're not alone. More than 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease. In most cases, you can help reverse, and even protect against, its effects. So how do you treat gum disease? Great question!