Gum disease is a chronic infection of your gums. The mild form is called gingivitis, and the more serious form is periodontitis. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults and can also contribute to numerous health problems from heart disease to cancer. Gum disease cannot be cured, but with regular treatment, you can avoid most of its negative effects.
If you are looking for a dentist in the Houston area who can treat your gum disease, please call (281) 367-5559 today for an appointment with Dr. Scott Young or Dr. Leah Zils at Woodlands Premier Dentistry.
Causes of Gingivitis
Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, is caused by the buildup of oral bacteria on the teeth around and under the gum line. This buildup plays host to dangerous bacteria over time that not only erodes the teeth and gums, but creates pockets between them that can catch debris, sugar, and acids from foods and beverages that you consume, which accelerates tooth decay.
The type of food you eat does not directly cause gum disease, unless you are suffering from undernourishment. It is the buildup of tartar over time which is the major contributor to gum disease. Tartar cannot be removed by you at home, even by following good dental hygiene such as vigorous brushing and flossing every day. In fact, brushing your teeth too hard can potentially injure your gums. The only way to remove tartar and dangerous bacteria from under your gum line is through professional dental cleanings.
Gingivitis can turn into periodontitis – an advanced and dangerous form of gum disease. However, the reasons why gingivitis develops into periodontitis is unclear.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease – one that often requires significant intervention to treat. Chronic periodontitis – which can occur even with treatment – is linked to a number of systemic health consequences including various types of cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver failure, and complications with pregnancy.
Periodontitis is the form of gum disease that is associated with tooth loss. We are not sure why some people develop more serious gum disease than others, and it doesn’t seem to be completely related to your hygiene. There are many genetic factors and specific bacteria that contribute to your periodontitis risk.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The main symptom of gum disease is inflammation of the gums; however, there are other symptoms which should prompt a dental visit as soon as they are noticed. The primary symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swelling of the gums
- Gum sensitivity
- Bleeding gums
- Mouth sores
- Shiny gums
- Severe halitosis
- Red or purple gums
- Gum pockets
The sooner your gum disease is identified, the less invasive treatments we can use for it. In early stages, we may only recommend slight changes to your oral hygiene or more frequent cleanings. Later stages may require surgery.
Long-Term Effects of Gum Disease
Some long-term effects of gum disease are more self-apparent than others, but all of them can be very serious and negatively affect your quality of life. They include:
- Tooth weakness
- Oral pain
- Inability to chew
- Tooth loss
There is data indicating that gum disease can negatively affect other areas of your body as well, and may:
- Increase the complaint of aches and pains
- Cause stomach disorders
- Lead to heart failure or stroke
- Increase cancer risk
- Increase risk of autoimmune disorders
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Scott Young’s office immediately. The potential hazards of allowing gum disease to go untreated are too serious to ignore.
To learn more about gum disease, schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Scott Young at Woodlands Premier Dentistry, keeping gums healthy in the areas of The Woodlands, Houston, and Spring, Texas, for more than a decade.