Most people have heard of gingivitis and periodontitis, collectively known as gum disease. Not only are they very common conditions but they are easy to develop and not many people notice the signs until things have become serious!
It’s also a fairly widespread belief that gum disease isn’t really that bad. We hear from a lot of patients at our Orlando dentist office that they’ve been told it can be treated and prevented with little more than brushing and flossing. While that is true to an extent it doesn’t mean that gum disease is an easy problem to treat! The danger of gum disease lies in its going undetected, undiagnosed, and untreated.
What Is Gum Disease?
Do you know what plaque is? It’s that sticky white biofilm that forms on your teeth throughout the day. Plaque is made up of over 300 different species of bacteria, many of which are responsible for gum disease and tooth decay. Most species that are harmful are dangerous because they metabolize sugar into tooth enamel destroying acid – that’s the cause of tooth decay.
While plaque acids are dangerous for your gums as well it’s the bacteria itself that’s the cause of the problem of gum disease. It starts when bacteria manages to get underneath your gums. This is why you brush and floss – to get rid of bacteria and keep it away from your gumline. If it sits there too long you’re in trouble!
Once it gets under the gumline it irritates your gums and causes your immune system to react to stop the perceived infection. It does this by causing gum inflammation that traps bacteria and tries to kill it. While inflammation can be a part of healing elsewhere in your body it isn’t able to resolve the bacterial infection caused by gum disease.
Left untreated the inflammation will continue and will only get worse. At this stage you start seeing the signs of gingivitis, the earlier stage of gum disease. These include swollen, sensitive gums, bleeding when brushing, discoloration, and mild gum recession. Because your gums are inflamed they aren’t able to hold onto your teeth as well, leading to the formation of larger periodontal pockets. These pockets allow the bacteria to continue to spread.
Over time your gingivitis will continue to worsen until you start experience a fairly constant bad taste in your mouth. You’ll probably also notice that your bite has changed, your teeth are a bit looser, and your gums are probably far more receded and pulled back from your teeth. This is the later stage of gum disease called periodontitis.
At this point you’ve started to lose bone as well as gum tissue. The inflammation that’s meant to fight off bacteria weakens bone and teeth and before you know it you’ll be on the verge of losing your first tooth. Once that happens you can expect things to continue to get worse – a single lost tooth can be a domino effect of loss until you’re left without any teeth at all!
Preventing And Treating Gum Disease
Gum disease isn’t something to take lightly. If you don’t take care of it when the early symptoms start to show it can be incredibly expensive, time consuming, and uncomfortable to reverse the damage and save your teeth.
Our Orlando dentist office is equipped with state-of-the-art techniques to allow us to treat and resolve your gum disease. We can easily treat gingivitis with a technique called root planing and scaling. This involves going below the gumline with special tools to remove all the plaque and tartar that’s built up. Combined with good at-home oral health care (brushing twice a day and flossing nightly) you’ll be on your way to recovery in no time!
If your condition has progressed further we can still help! Using a special laser technique called LANAP we’ll go beneath the gums to vaporize bacteria, remove damaged gum tissue, and reshape gums that have been damaged by bacterial infection. LANAP is almost completely pain-free and doesn’t even require a single incision! It’s a great alternative to gum surgery!
Don’t Ignore Gum Disease!
No matter which symptom you’ve noticed it’s never too early to get an exam to check for gum disease. This dangerous condition is incredibly easy to catch so make sure you’re always on the defensive! Schedule an appointment at Overmeyer Family Dental today! Call us by phone at 407-603-3839 or request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!