Have you noticed that your gums tend to bleed lately? Do your gums feel sore, particularly after you brush them? While we don’t want you to panic quite yet, you may be exhibiting signs of gum disease. This disease affects as much as 75% of adults in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Peridonotology (AAP).
Periodontics is a part of dentistry that deals with gum disease. The gums, bones and ligaments that surround your teeth must be supported in order to maintain healthy gums. Many times, patients don’t realize that they have gum disease – instead, they may think that they’re simply experiencing tooth sensitivity. Sometimes there aren’t any painful symptoms to alert patients to a problem. Unfortunately, gum disease doesn’t just affect the gums, but also the bones that support the teeth, and if this problem goes unnoticed, even larger problems may arise. Loss of teeth, chronic discomfort and even receding gums may occur.
There are many reasons why a patient may develop gum disease. At the root of the problem is bacterial plaque that contains toxins which irritate the gums, causing them to swell and bleed. If this plaque forms on teeth and isn’t removed by brushing and flossing on a daily basis, it will harden. Gum disease may occur in a patient for a variety of reasons, including smoking, diabetes, stress, genetics, poor nutrition, hormonal changes, medication or grinding/clenching teeth.
If you can catch gum disease early enough, you may be able to bypass oral surgery. Non-surgical treatments include scaling and root planing which remove plaque from the gums. However, if this type of procedure doesn’t work, surgery may be necessary. Peridontists are also adept at cosmetic surgery to improve the patient’s appearance.
If you feel that you may have gum disease, visit a dentist immediately. Ensure that they have training in periodontics, since post-graduate training is required to earn a degree in this field. Also, ask your dentist to screen for gum disease during every visit – this will help ward off and prevent gum disease from becoming a problem that’s difficult to control.